landlord/tenant Q&A

CATHERINE M. MATTHEWS (R), GRI
Broker-In Charge, Callahan Realty, Ltd.
Past President, Oahu Chapter National Association of Residential Property Managers

During our annual NARPM seminar geared to people who manage their own properties, we had a question and answer period where members of the audience had an opportunity to ask questions of a panel of experts. We had many more questions than time. I have listed below several submitted questions that have short answers. Whenever I refer to a lease I am referring to the Hawaii Association of Realtors Standard lease.

Q.

If a tenant has shown proof they require an assistance animal but the condominium rules say no pets, what do I do?

A.

As described under Federal Fair Housing Laws, an assistance animal is not a pet but a special animal that helps the person with the disability enjoy the use of the dwelling. Neither you (nor the condominium association) may deny a person with a legitimate disability the right to have a service animal. The tenant will be held responsible for adhering to the condominium association’s rules, such as picking up after the animal etc.

Q.

How can it be that Hawaiian only Homestead Properties are not in violation of Federal Fair Housing laws based on race?

A.

Hawaiian Homestead land has been granted to the Hawaiian people by an Act of Congress. Congress has the ability to make exceptions to Federal laws.

Q.

If a tenant has moved out and damage was not evident during a check-out walk through but noticed later, can the repair still be deducted from the deposit?

A.

Yes, just be sure you are complying with the 14 day rule in refunding the deposit. Be certain the damage was there before the tenant moved out and take pictures and document the damage that was not evident during the walk through.

Q.

If a tenant does not disclose that they have an assistance animal when they make application for a rental but tell you later after they move in, is that deceptive and considered falsifying their application, a basis to terminate the lease?

A.

No, if a person with a legitimate disability has need for an assistance animal, you must allow the request for the accommodation regardless of when you are notified.

Q.

Applicants came to look at a property I manage bringing with them a credit report and a completed application from a company they applied to but didn’t rent from. Can I run another credit report on them to verify the information?

A.

No! You may not run a credit report on anyone without their consent in writing authorizing you, specifically, to run the report. The fact that they gave you a report is not consent.

Q.

When I completed the lease form for a new tenant, I forgot to check that the tenant pays for gas which is used only by the stove/oven. However, when I advertised the unit I included that the tenant pays for all utilities. The tenant says they aren’t paying for the gas because, according to the lease, it is included. I say it was an honest mistake. Who is right?

A.

You are both right. I believe it was an honest mistake, but you will still have to absorb the cost of the gas. You can change this when the lease expires and you renew. Answers to questions in Landlord Tenant Q&A are provided by members of the Oahu Chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), an organization that supports the professional and ethical practices of rental home management through networking, education, and certification. The Oahu Chapter, founded in 2004, has become the largest in the nation with 175 registered members.

Disclaimer: The answers provided in this column by Realtors address individual cases and should not be construed as interpretations of the law. For specific information on Hawaii State Law, go to http://hawaii.gov/dcca/areas/ocp/landlord_tenant or contact an attorney.

Locations Hawaii
Michael Marks
Sandwich Isles Realty
Kimo Smigielski, Broker-in-Charge
R, ABR, CRS, GRI, e-PRO
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Agent, REALTOR(A), RS-77391
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Shea Miyashiro, RS-64678
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Atsuko Winston, RS-75899
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