Hawaiʻi Attorney General seeks information on illegal residential rent increases, evictions on Maui

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Attorney General Anne Lopez is asking residential rental tenants on the island of Maui to inform the Department of the Attorney General if their landlords are illegally raising rent or threatening them with eviction for failure to pay rent, taxes or fees.

Under the Seventh Proclamation Relating to Wildfires, signed by Governor Josh Green, M.D. (the Emergency Proclamation), the landlord of a residential dwelling unit on the island of Maui is prohibited from charging more rent than what was being assessed as of Aug. 9, 2023, unless such rent increase is contained in a written agreement that was signed by the tenant prior to Aug. 9, 2023. 

It does not matter if the landlord re-rents the property to a new tenant or enters into a new agreement with the same tenant—the rent cannot exceed what was being assessed as of Aug. 9, 2023, so long as the prohibition on rent increases in the Emergency Proclamation and subsequent emergency proclamations remains in effect.

Additionally, under the Emergency Proclamation, a landlord on the island of Maui is prohibited from initiating, continuing, or prosecuting an eviction action against a residential rental tenant for failure to pay all or any portion of the rent, maintenance fees, utility charges, taxes, or other fees for the residential unit. Given this prohibition, merely threatening eviction under such circumstances may constitute an unlawful act.

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Landlords violating these provisions of the Emergency Proclamation may be subject to penalties and remedies as provided by law, including civil penalties of up to $10,000 per day. See sections 127A-30(e) and 480-3.1, Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, according to state officials.

“We are aware of reports of Maui landlords raising rent beyond what was being assessed for the same unit as of Aug. 9, 2023,” said Attorney General Lopez. “The purpose of the rent and eviction restrictions in the Emergency Proclamation is to address the unprecedented humanitarian crisis caused by the August wildfires. If you believe that a landlord on Maui is acting illegally under the Emergency Proclamation, report what you know to the Department of the Attorney General.”

To report a Maui landlord for potentially violating the terms of the Emergency Proclamation, complaints can be emailed to [email protected].

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