Most Honolulu investors dread the idea of evicting a tenant. This is understandable; the process can cost a lot of time and money. It can also be confusing. If you don’t work with a Honolulu property management company, consider seeking some professional advice before moving forward with an eviction. If you make a mistake, the process will only be prolonged.
What Exactly Does it Mean to Evict a Tenant
In Honolulu, the legal term for eviction is Summary Possession. This is the process of seeking court approval to legally remove a tenant or unauthorized persons from a property. The State of Hawaii does not allow investors to change lock or remove tenants without court approval; even if they are in violation of the lease of state and federal laws.
Evicting Honolulu Tenants: Posting a Notice
There are many reasons to evict, but the most common one is when rent isn’t paid. The first thing you’ll do in this situation is post a Five Day Notice for Non-Payment of Rent. You can do this by posting the notice at your Honolulu property and mail it by certified mail, but remember it will take some time for that notice to be received by your tenant. If five business days come and go without a response or a payment from your tenant, you can file the eviction paperwork in court. The state of Hawaii requires legal notices for evictions to contain specific wording. We recommend you hire an attorney to ensure it’s filed and worded correctly.
Serving an Eviction Lawsuit
Honolulu owners can have a process server deliver the eviction notice paperwork in person at the tenant’s home or place of employment. Remember that even the best process server won’t always be able to serve your tenant on the first attempt. It may take several tries, and you’re paying the process server for their time and the work it takes to locate and serve your tenant.
Court Hearings and Mediation
At the initial answer hearing, the court will ask if your tenant is contesting the eviction. If so, a mediation meeting will be scheduled. This mediation is mandatory in Hawaii, and Honolulu landlords must make an attempt to reach some kind of agreeable outcome with the tenant to avoid going to court. If an agreement is reached, it must be put in writing during the mediation. Wording is important, so make sure your attorney includes language that will protect you from having to start the process over if your tenant does not keep his or her end of the bargain.
If there is no successful agreement reached during mediation, a court date will be scheduled for two or three weeks later. The landlord, tenant, and attorney will show up and wait for the judge to deliver a decision after hearing both sides. Any number of outcomes could be handed down, from an eviction to reduced payments. You never know how the judge will rule, which is why it’s important to be open and flexible during mediation. Tenants may be granted more time and you may have to go to court multiple times.
Receiving an Order for Eviction
If the judge rules in your favor and you’re granted an eviction, you’ll need to hire the sheriff to remove the tenants and their belongings. In Honolulu, the sheriff’s office is often backed up and they won’t get to your eviction for several weeks. If you’re working with a property manager or a lawyer who has connections in the sheriff’s office, you may be able to convince them to work overtime or contact a retired sheriff to perform the eviction sooner. Expect to pay a little extra, but it will be worth it to have your property back in your possession.
The sheriff will have to post or serve an eviction notice. If the tenant does not move out before the posted date of eviction, you have to hire a locksmith to coordinate with the sheriff who will return and the tenant will be locked out. Hopefully, the tenants will move out on their own before the stated eviction date.
Honolulu Tenants and Their Property
If a tenant leaves behind personal belongings, the landlord must hold onto them for 15 days after a notice is posted alerting the tenant to the landlord’s intent to sell or donate those belongings. This means you may have to wait another two weeks before you have a property you can re-rent.
When your tenants return to remove their property, have someone there to make sure there isn’t any damage done to the home.
At HappyDoors Property Management, we are often successful with mediation and rarely have to go to trial. We also work closely with the sheriff’s department, ensuring your tenants are evicted as quickly as possible when necessary. Usually, they are out within a week after the eviction has been granted by the courts. With professional Honolulu property management, the eviction process is streamlined. Once the tenants are out, we move quickly to repair any damage and get the property rented to a good tenant quickly. We don’t wait for all of the possessions to be moved out. For example, we’ll start painting the house while we store all of the tenant’s belongings in the kitchen.
If you have any questions or you need help evicting your Honolulu tenants, please don’t hesitate to contact us at HappyDoors Property Management.