CARL L. FRAZIER (R), PB
Owner, Principal Broker
Past President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers and
National Conference Speaker
Q. I have a couple of questions. My landlord is very hard to get hold of and I can’t seem to get her to help me. I’ve asked her for receipts when I send in my payments because my company reimburses me for housing. I always pay by money order because that was the way she wanted it. Now my company is concerned and they have asked me to get them a copy of the lease. I don’t have one and the owner keeps delaying giving me a copy. Then to top it off, my shower drain got clogged with hair. She sent someone to clean it and he told me to use a hair guard. Then the next day I find an invoice on my door that she wants me to pay! What should I do?
A. If this were a ball game I would say the score was Tenant 2 Landlord 1! Section 521-43 (d) of the Hawaii Landlord Tenant Code states the following: In the case of a written rental agreement, the landlord shall furnish a copy of the lease or rental agreement to the tenant. That’s it.
It is a legal requirement to provide a copy of any contract to the person signing it at the time of signing. If they misplace it, they should provide a replacement copy quickly. You should also be provided with copies of any addenda, house rules, lease extensions, property inventory and condition form – any documentation regarding the lease that the landlord has, you should have a copy of it too.
The very next section deals with receipts. Section 521-43 (e) states this: The landlord shall furnish to the tenant a written receipt for rents paid at the time of payment. Canceled checks shall constitute and fulfill the requirement of a written receipt. If rent is paid by check, the landlord shall furnish a receipt thereof, provided a receipt is requested by the tenant. In your case you don’t get the canceled check back since you pay by money order. If you paid by personal check, then the canceled check would serve as a receipt. However, even if you get your canceled checks – you can still ask for and by law expect a written receipt! And a receipt does not have to come from a receipt book. Your landlord can just write it out on plain paper indicating who issued it, what it’s for, amount, date, and signature.
The last item I’m afraid the landlord wins. Section 521-51 (4) and (5) pretty much covers it: Each Tenant shall at all times during the tenancy: (4) Keep all plumping fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant as clean as their condition allows, and (5) Properly use and operate all electrical and plumbing fixtures and appliances in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant. Letting your hair clog up the drain is neither keeping it clean nor operating it properly! Owner has the right and should expect that you pay for that charge.