While you wouldn’t think the end of a lease would be a confusing time, tenants often have questions and landlords should have the answers. To begin, everything having to do with the end of a lease agreement should be outlined in the lease agreement. Notices of termination, return of the security deposit, and move out inspections all have potential pitfalls if not handled correctly by tenants and landlords in Hawaii.
No notice is required if the tenant plans to leave at the end of the agreement term. The lease just ends, and the tenant should provide a forwarding address so that the landlord can return the security deposit. However, if the tenant stays on with the landlord’s permission they become a month-to-month tenant. Month-to-month tenants need to provide at least 28 days’ written notice to the landlord when they plan to leave. As a landlord, the notice period to terminate a month-to-month tenancy is longer at 45 days’ for the written notice.
Return of the security deposit
Using the forwarding address provided by the departing tenant, the landlord has 14 days after the agreement terminates and possession is returned to the landlord to send the tenant a full refund of the deposit, or the balance of the deposit after deductions for damages beyond normal wear tear. When there is a deduction for damages the landlord must also provide a detailed accounting of the deductions, along with receipts and proof of work done to substantiate the deductions. Failure to return the deposit within the 14 day time frame and the written notice and accounting of any deductions means the landlord must forfeit the entire security deposit.
Move out inspection?
A move out inspection is not a requirement in Hawaii, but it is a good idea to arrange for an inspection. As with all aspects of being a landlord, the better the communication between landlord and tenant the better chance for a smooth tenancy. Landlords in Hawaii are not required to give the tenant a chance to fix any damages noted during a pre-move out inspection, but most landlords, depending on the damages, will allow the tenant to make the repairs before a final inspection.