Landlord/Tenant Q&A: DARLENE HIGA (RA), MPM, RMP

DARLENE HIGA (RA), MPM, RMP
Property Manager,
Property Profi les, Inc.
Past President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers

Q. My tenant’s lease ends in two weeks and he hasn’t given me a definite decision as to whether he will renew his lease or move out. I don’t want to be stuck with a vacant unit so what should I do?

A. This happens a lot and it would be prudent for the landlord to take control over the situation and establish some deadlines and consequences.

First, does your lease have a clause that specifically requires notice?

If you do have a notice requirement, such as a 30-day written notice, make sure he understands that he must give you at least a 30-day notice and may be held responsible for rents for that duration of time. It’s also good business practice to have sent him a renewal notice way in advance where he could have signed up for a renewal of the lease, or converted to a month to month tenancy, or given you notice to terminate. We provide that to our tenants in a check box type form so it’s easy for them to fill out and send back. If there is no notice requirement, the lease terminates automatically at the end of the lease term which in your case would be two weeks from now. You should make him aware that without a new signed lease agreement, you are expecting him to be moved out of the unit completely by the termination date. If he is not out by that day, and is still in the unit without the landlord’s permission, he may be considered a “holdover tenant”

and liable at a rate up to 2 times the previous rental amount prorated for every day that he remains in the unit. You may also sue for eviction and may recover the cost of the suit (HRS 521-71(e). You should also inform him that the security deposit may not be used as payment for the last month’s rent unless the you (the landlord) agrees, in writing to use the deposit in such manner, and the tenant gives a 45-day notice (not 28 days) of vacating the premises. He would also be liable for any damages he caused during his tenancy. If he stays in the unit with your permission beyond the expiration and without a new lease, he would be considered on a month to month tenancy.

In any case, to avoid situations like this from happening, it would be prudent to send out renewal notices and/or conduct discussions on whether the tenant will be renewing the lease, converting to a month to month, or terminating the lease way in advance, at least 45 – 60 days out. Even if the tenant wants to modify the expiration date, say he now ask to remain 10 days longer than the lease expiration date, be sure to have this agreement in writing as a modification to the end date of the lease so there is no question as to when the lease ends and how much rent the tenant owes.

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