Report Title:

Landowner Liability; Unimproved Land

 

Description:

Relieves landowner of liability for any damage, injury, or harm to persons or property outside the boundaries of the landowner's land caused by naturally occurring land failure originating on unimproved land, except for harm arising from negligent or wanton acts by the owner of the unimproved land. (HB951 HD1)

 


HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

951

TWENTY-FIFTH LEGISLATURE, 2009

H.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT


 

 

RELATING TO LANDOWNER LIABILITY.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that it is in the best interest of the public to provide certainty in the law with respect to the legal duties and obligations of landowners arising from the inherent risks of land failures caused by natural conditions to persons and property outside the boundaries of their land when these risks have not been created or increased by artificial improvements or alterations to the land.

The purpose of this Act is to codify the common law that currently exists in Hawaii with respect to the legal duties and obligations pertaining to damages and injuries caused by natural conditions to property and persons outside the land.

SECTION 2. Chapter 663, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new part to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"PART     . UNIMPROVED LAND; LIABILITY

663-   Definitions. As used in this part:

"Naturally occurring land failure" means any movement of land, including a landslide, debris flow, mudslide, creep, subsidence, rock fall, and any other gradual or rapid movement of land, that is not caused by human alterations to or improvements constructed upon the land.

"Unimproved land" means any land upon which there is no improvement, construction of any structure, building, facility, or alteration of the land by grading, dredging, or mining that would cause a permanent change in the land area on which it occurs and that would change the basic natural condition that exists on the land. Land remains unimproved land notwithstanding the following:

(1) Minor improvements, including the installation or maintenance of utility poles and signage;

(2) Minor alterations undertaken for the preservation or prudent management of the unimproved land, including the installation or maintenance of fences, trails, or pathways;

(3) Maintenance activities, including forest plantings and weed, brush, rock, boulder, or tree removal; or

(4) The removal or securing of rocks or boulders undertaken to reduce risk to downslope properties.

663-   Land failure on unimproved land caused by natural condition; liability. A landowner shall not be liable for any damage, injury, or harm to persons or property outside the boundaries of the landowner's land caused by any naturally occurring land failure originating on unimproved land; provided that a landowner shall remain liable for damages proximately caused by negligence or wanton acts or omissions committed in the course of any activities on the unimproved land."

SECTION 3. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun, before its effective date.

SECTION 4. If any provision of this Act, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of the Act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are severable.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect on January 1, 2046.