Landlord Tenant Q&A with CARL L. FRAZIER (R), PB

CARL L. FRAZIER (R), PB
Owner, Principal Broker
Cornerstone Properties
Past President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers and
National Conference Speaker

Q. Are there rules about when and how a landlord may enter the premises in which the renter lives? Three college girls are renting the house in question. The landlord comes through the house often, many times unannounced and either alone or with potential renters. Most of the time the girls are not there, but there are times when they are home and he just walks in anyhow. Recently one girl was sleeping in her bed with the door locked and was startled awake when he walked in with three potential future renters.

He says he knocked, but she says she never heard anything. The girls are very uneasy about this, and especially when they go to bed at night. Can you advise?

A. If the tenants signed a standard Hawaii Association of Realtors lease, they will see that Item E2 states that a landlord must give a tenant two days notice to enter the leased property during reasonable business hours. The tenant must not unreasonably withhold consent. However, even if the landlord did not use the Hawaii Association of Realtors lease, Hawaii Revised Statutes 521 also states that the landlord must provide two days notice.

If the landlord enters the unit without tenant consent, the landlord is liable for theft, injury, or damage caused by his/her entry. Should the landlord enter with tenant consent, liability is limited to damage caused by negligence only.

Should the landlord not abide by the law, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement, file suit, obtain an injunction and ask the court for a fine. The only reason a landlord may enter a property without prior consent is in the case of an emergency, if the property appears abandoned, or by court order. These laws are very straight forward and tend to be strictly enforced by our courts.

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