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Bill Makes Changes to Eviction Policies, Adds Mandatory Mediation

June 17, 2021, 6:30 AM HST
* Updated June 17, 1:46 AM
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All evictions in the state of Hawaii will require a mediation process beginning in August.

Anticipating the filing of numerous court cases when Governor David Ige’s statewide eviction moratorium expires on Aug. 6, 2021, legislators this year passed HB 1376 in an effort to ease the burden on both landlords and tenants faced with tough choices. The bill was signed into law by the governor as Act 57.

The bill will temporarily make mediation a pre-requisite to any court eviction filing instead of after, which is the current practice. 

“With many people still struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic, we need to make sure families are not evicted when there may be a way to negotiate a solution that is good for all the parties involved,” said Representative Troy N. Hashimoto (D- 8, Kahakuloa, Waihe‘e, Waiehu, Pu‘uohala, Wailuku, Waikapū). “Legislators knew this eviction moratorium would end at some point and did not want to see any families become homeless.”

Hashimoto, the primary introducer of the bill and Vice Chair of the Committee on Housing, said this measure amends the Landlord-Tenant Code in the following ways:

  • Extends the notice of termination of a rental agreement from five days to fifteen days to allow for mediation.
  • Requires landlords to provide a copy of a notice of termination of a rental agreement concurrently to a tenant and a mediation center that provides free landlord-tenant mediation; and
  • The mediation center will in turn, set-up a mediation appointment for both parties with mediation to be completed within 30 days from the receipt of the notice.
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This program will begin on the first day after the eviction moratorium ends and priority will be given for the first 30 days to those four months or more behind in rent. Eligibility will then expand every two months.

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“The intent is to not overwhelm the mediators and the court system as they work through what is expected to be a backlog of cases,” said Hashimoto. “This will help to ensure that tenants also have the opportunity to apply for rental assistance if they qualify.”

If mediation is not successful, the parties can continue to court proceedings, but the legislation does not prohibit the courts from ordering additional mediation if it appears the mandatory mediation was not completed in good faith.

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