When you sign a lease for an apartment, your landlord will probably require you to pay a security deposit. Later, when your lease ends and you vacate the apartment, you'll want your security deposit back as soon as possible.
How much a landlord may collect from you as a security deposit varies across the United States. In addition, states have their own laws that regulate how long a landlord may take to return your deposit, whether you're owed interest, the consequences for a landlord who fails to follow the law, and more.
Here are answers to commonly asked questions about security deposits for apartments in Hawaii. Do you have a question that isn't addressed here? Please ask.
Q: Why would a Hawaii landlord collect a security deposit from tenants?
A: Hawaii landlords aren't required to collect a security deposit from tenants. But because it's in a landlord's best interest to do so, it has become common practice. When a landlord collects a security deposit, it's a way of helping to ensure that the tenant will keep the apartment in good shape, pay the rent, and not suddenly break the lease and disappear, which could mean the tenant doesn't get the deposit returned.
Q: What's the most a Hawaii landlord can get from a tenant as a security deposit?
A: A Hawaii landlord can require tenants to pay up to one month's rent as a security deposit.
Q: How long does a Hawaii landlord have to return a tenant's security deposit?
A: A Hawaii landlord has up to 14 days after the end of a tenancy to return the security deposit.
Q: May a Hawaii landlord legally keep some or all of a tenant's security deposit?
A: Yes. A landlord may apply some or all of a tenant's security deposit to cover back rent and utility charges, as well as damages caused by the tenant. If a landlord is returning any amount less than the full security deposit, the landlord has up to 14 days to send written notice to the tenant, in which the deductions are itemized.
In Hawaii, a landlord is exempt from this notice requirement if the tenant "wrongfully quits," meaning the tenant is absent from the apartment without notice to the landlord for a period of at least 20 days.
Q: How can a tenant ensure she gets her security deposit from a Hawaii landlord?
A: The tenant should give the landlord a forwarding address for the return of the security deposit and/or an itemized accounting. If a tenant doesn't take this step, the Hawaii landlord must mail the deposit and/or accounting to the tenant's last known address, which could be the tenant's recently vacated apartment, or personally deliver the deposit and/or accounting to the tenant. Hawaii law makes it clear that tenants who don't provide a forwarding address don't forfeit their right to the return of their deposit.
Q: What happens if a Hawaii landlord doesn't return the deposit on time?
A: If a landlord doesn't send the security deposit or itemized accounting within the 14-day period, the landlord may be liable to pay the tenant up to three times the amount of the original security deposit, as well as court and attorney's fees.
Q: Is a Hawaii landlord required to keep security deposits in separate accounts?
A: Hawaii doesn't require landlords to keep a tenant's security deposit in a separate account or earn interest during the tenancy.