It’s important for a tenant to understand what could happen to any of their property left behind in the rental, whether it’s from an abandonment or just property left behind after a move out. For that matter, the lease agreement should state the procedure for dealing with abandoned property so that the tenant is aware at lease signing.

By law, Landlords in Hawaii can handle abandoned property in several ways:

  • Sell the abandoned property in a manner consistent with a commercial transaction.
  • Store the property at the tenant’s expense.
  • Donate the property to charity.

If there is property of value that is abandoned and the landlord chooses to either donate or sell the property, proper notice must be provided to the tenant. Reasonable efforts to contact the tenant with information about the property and the intent to sell or donate it must be made, which could be a forwarding address, another address provided by tenant, or the last known address. The landlord can then sell or donate the property after 15 days has elapsed from mailing the notice to the tenant. In addition, if the landlord is selling the property, a notice of sale must be advertised in a daily paper of general circulation within the area where the rental property is located, and the advertisement of sale must run for three consecutive days.

The landlord also has to hold in trust any sale proceeds for a period of 30 days after the sale. The proceeds are net of any costs associated with the storage, sale, and advertising of the property, along with any accrued rent. If the proceeds are not claimed by the tenant within 30 days the landlord can retain the proceeds, with no recourse to landlord.