STAND. COM. REP. NO. 662
RE: S.B. No. 35
Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi
President of the Senate
Thirty-First State Legislature
Regular Session of 2021
State of Hawaii
Your Committee on Judiciary, to which was referred S.B. No. 35, S.D. 1, entitled:
"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO THE RESIDENTIAL LANDLORD-TENANT CODE,"
begs leave to report as follows:
The purpose and intent of this measure is to:
(1) Prohibit landlords from recovering possession of a dwelling unit from tenants if habitability of the premises is significantly impaired;
(2) Set a tenant's liability for rent if habitability of the premises is significantly impaired; and
(3) Provide remedies for retaliatory evictions.
Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Imua Alliance, and one individual. Your Committee received testimony in opposition to this measure from the Hawaii Association of REALTORS.
Your Committee finds that the most common complaint received by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' Office of Consumer Protection's Landlord-Tenant Information Center concerns landlords failing to make repairs in a timely manner. Under existing state law, a tenant has the legal right to request necessary repairs without being evicted, and if the landlord does not respond in a certain number of days, the tenant may deduct up to $500 from the following month's rent for the cost of repairs. However, the cost to repair conditions that materially affect health and safety can exceed $500, leaving a tenant with limited recourse. This measure will help incentivize landlords to keep their rental units safe and sanitary, establishes a clear standard of damages for tenants who fall victim to retaliatory evictions, and will deter unscrupulous landlords from engaging in unlawful conduct.
As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Judiciary that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 35, S.D. 1, and recommends that it pass Third Reading.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Judiciary,
KARL RHOADS, Chair