TWENTY-NINTH LEGISLATURE, 2017
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO DISCRIMINATION.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that low-income individuals have an extremely difficult time finding affordable housing rentals in Hawaii. This situation is more frustrating when "no section 8 accepted" housing vacancy advertisements prevent low-income individuals from being considered as renters. Existing Hawaii law does not prohibit discrimination based on lawful source of income. However, a number of other states, including California and Oregon, have prohibited this type of income discrimination. The legislature further finds that renters who participate in government assistance programs, such as the federal housing choice voucher program, also known as section 8 housing, should have an equal opportunity to find housing.
The purpose of this Act is to prohibit discrimination based on lawful source of income in rental transactions, including advertisements for available rental units.
SECTION 2. The Hawaii Revised Statutes is amended by adding a new chapter to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:
Source of income discrimination
§ -1 Definitions. As used in this chapter, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
"Rental transaction" means any part of the process or transaction for the rental or lease of premises for residential purposes.
"Source of income" means any lawful source of money paid directly or indirectly to a tenant or potential tenant, including:
(1) Any lawful profession or occupation;
(2) Any government or private assistance, grant, loan, or rental assistance program, including low-income housing assistance certificates and vouchers under the United States Housing Act of 1937, as amended; and
(3) Any gift, inheritance, pension, annuity, alimony, child support, or other consideration or benefit.
"Steer" means the practice of directing persons who seek to enter into a rental transaction toward or away from the premises to deprive them of the benefits of living in a discrimination-free environment.
§ -2 Discriminatory practices in a rental transaction based on source of income. (a) It is a discriminatory practice for a person engaging in a rental transaction subject to this chapter with another person to, because of that other person's source of income:
(1) Refuse to engage in a rental transaction with that person;
(2) Discriminate against that person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of a rental transaction or in the furnishing of facilities or services in connection with a rental transaction;
(3) Refuse to receive or fail to transmit a bona fide offer to engage in a rental transaction from that person;
(4) Refuse to negotiate for a rental transaction with that person;
(5) Represent to that person that premises are not available for inspection, rental, or lease when in fact the premises are available; fail to bring a premises listing to that person's attention; refuse to permit that person to inspect the premises; or steer that person away from seeking to engage in a rental transaction;
(6) Offer, solicit, accept, use, or retain a premises listing with the understanding that that person may be discriminated against in a rental transaction or in the furnishing of facilities or services in connection with a rental transaction; or
(7) Discriminate against or deny that person access to, or membership or participation in, any multiple listing service or other service, organization, or facility involved either directly or indirectly in rental transactions; or to discriminate against that person in the terms or conditions of access, membership, or participation.
(b) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prohibit a person from determining the ability of a potential tenant to pay rent by:
(1) Verifying, in a commercially reasonable manner, the source and amount of income of the potential tenant; or
(2) Evaluating, in a commercially reasonable manner, the stability, security, and credit worthiness of the potential tenant or any source of income of the potential tenant.
§ -3 Restrictive covenants and conditions. (a) Every provision in an oral agreement or a written instrument relating to the premises that purports to forbid or restrict the occupancy or lease of the premises to persons because of source of income is void.
(b) Every condition, restriction, or prohibition, including a right of entry or possibility of reverter, that directly or indirectly limits the use or occupancy of the premises on the basis of source of income is void.
(c) It is a discriminatory practice to insert in a written instrument relating to the premises a provision that is void under this section or to honor or attempt to honor the provision in the chain of title.
§ -4 Blockbusting. It is a discriminatory practice for a person, for the purpose of inducing a rental transaction from which the person may benefit financially, to represent to another person, because of that other person's source of income, that:
(1) A change has occurred, will occur, or may occur in the composition of the owners or occupants in the block, neighborhood, or area in which the premises is located; or
(2) The change described in paragraph (1) will or may result in the lowering of property values, an increase in criminal or antisocial behavior, or a decline in the quality of schools in the block, neighborhood, or area in which the premises is located.
§ -5 Other discriminatory practices in a rental transaction. It is a discriminatory practice for a person, or for two or more persons to conspire to:
(1) Retaliate, threaten, or discriminate against a person because:
(A) Of the exercise or enjoyment of any right granted or protected by this chapter;
(B) The person has opposed a discriminatory practice prohibited under this chapter; or
(C) The person has filed a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in a proceeding under this chapter;
(2) Aid, abet, incite, or coerce a person to engage in a discriminatory practice under this chapter;
(3) Interfere with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of any right granted or protected by this chapter;
(4) Obstruct or prevent a person from complying with this chapter or an order issued pursuant to this chapter;
(5) Intimidate or threaten any person engaging in activities designed to make other persons aware of, or encouraging other persons to exercise, rights granted or protected by this chapter;
(6) Threaten, intimidate, or interfere with persons in their enjoyment of the premises because of the source of income of the persons, or of visitors or associates of the persons;
(7) Print, circulate, post, mail, or cause to be published a statement, advertisement, or sign that indicates, directly or indirectly, an intent to make a limitation or specification, or to discriminate because of source of income;
(8) Use a form of application for a rental transaction that indicates, directly or indirectly, an intent to make a limitation or specification, or to discriminate because of source of income; or
(9) Make a record or inquiry in connection with a prospective rental transaction that indicates, directly or indirectly, an intent to make a limitation or specification, or to discriminate because of source of income.
§ -6 Late fee; untimely payment under low-income housing assistance program. For any dwelling unit rented as part of a low-income housing assistance certificate and voucher program under the United States Housing Act of 1937, as amended, the landlord shall be entitled to ten per cent of the monthly rent where payment from the program is not prepaid.
§ -7 Remedies for discrimination based on source of income. (a) If a person engaging in a rental transaction engages in a discriminatory practice based on source of income prohibited under this chapter, any aggrieved renter may bring a civil action in district court for appropriate injunctive relief within one year of the occurrence of the alleged violation.
(b) In any action brought pursuant to subsection (a), a district court may issue an injunction to enjoin violation of this chapter and if an injunction is issued may:
(1) Assess a fine not to exceed $500; and
(2) Award reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in the civil action.
§ -8 Investigation and resolution of complaints. The office of consumer protection or the Hawaii civil rights commission shall receive, investigate, and attempt to resolve any dispute arising under this chapter."
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. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2050.
Discrimination in Rental Transactions; Source of Income; Advertisements
Prohibits discrimination based on lawful source of income in rental transactions, including advertisements for available rental dwelling units. Effective 07/01/2050. (SD1)
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.