OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR NEWS RELEASE: GOVERNOR IGE NOTIFIES LEGISLATURE, CHIEF JUSTICE, THAT EVICTION MORATORIUM WILL BE LIFTED AUGUST 6 – STATE URGES RESIDENTS TO SEEK MEDIATION, AVAILABLE ASSISTANCEPosted on Jul 15, 2021 in COVID-19, COVID-19 News Releases, Latest Department News, Newsroom, Office of the Governor Press Releases
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HONOLULU – Gov. David Ige today formally notified the Hawai‘i State Legislature and Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald that he will not be issuing any further eviction moratoria once the current moratorium expires on Aug. 6. The eviction moratorium has been in place since April 17, 2020.
“At that time, the COVID-19 pandemic caused travel around the world to come to a halt. Hundreds of thousands of Hawai‘i residents who depend on the visitor industry for their livelihood were out of work, and I issued the first moratorium to prevent mass evictions,” said Gov. Ige. “The pandemic is not yet over, but thanks to safe and effective vaccines, many residents are now back at work.”
In addition, federal funds are available for Emergency Rent Assistance. Renters and landlords are encouraged to seek and accept the rental assistance relief being distributed in each county.
For residents who may not have been able to catch up on their rent payments, the state, counties, Legislature, Judiciary, and service providers are working together to keep people in their homes after the eviction moratorium expires.
Gov. Ige signed a measure passed by the Legislature this year, that changes eviction procedures for non-payment of rent. Act 57 significantly changes the landlord-tenant code and incentivizes mediation for both renters and landlords:
- Renters have more time to seek assistance and to work out agreements to avoid eviction;
- Renters have right to mediation; and
- Initially, the Courts can consider Summary Possession cases for those owing four months of back rent or more.
“The Judiciary has been working since last year with agencies and community partners across the state to prepare for the expected increase in eviction case filings once the moratorium is lifted,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald. “We are grateful to those partners for their efforts. I also want to thank Governor Ige and the Legislature, especially Representatives Troy Hashimoto and Nadine Nakamura, for working collaboratively to enact legislation to help tenants and landlords resolve their disputes during these unprecedented times.”
“We passed legislation this year to support the thousands who may become homeless once the eviction moratorium is lifted. Act 57 gives time for landlords and tenants to work together on a payment plan before the moratorium ends on August 6. Through mediation, a payment plan can be negotiated so landlords can begin getting the back rent owed and tenants can remain in their homes. This is a great opportunity for our community to come together to help each other,” said Sen. Sharon Moriwaki.
“Lawmakers knew the importance of creating an offramp as the eviction moratorium comes to an end. The last thing we want to see is families and individuals suffering economic hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic becoming homeless. HB1376 will provide a fair and balanced procedure for landlords and tenants to seek rental assistance, mediation, and negotiate a resolution before resorting to an eviction filing,” said Representative Troy N. Hashimoto, the primary introducer of the bill.
“Act 57 creates a terrific process in which landlords and tenants can work with a neutral third party to resolve their differences. The best-case scenario is to keep tenants in their units. The new law also helps prevent the Judiciary from being overwhelmed with cases. The Office of Consumer Protection can provide information to both landlords and tenants,” said Stephen H. Levins, executive director, Office of Consumer Protection.
“Mediation provides landlords and tenants with a chance to negotiate creative agreements that meet the needs of the landlord to be paid, and the needs of the tenant to remain housed. Mediation is not part of the legal system, and landlords and tenants craft their own agreements that work for them. We hope our residents take advantage of our services,” said Tracey Wiltgen, executive director, The Mediation Center of the Pacific, Inc.
“As we recover, we knew this day would eventually come. We thank the Governor, state Legislature, and our community partners for helping to ease the transition for both landlords and tenants. With the recent adoption of Act 57, mediation is now a necessary step before eviction. We want our residents to know that there is still time, and resources are available. We continue to accept applications for Kaua‘i’s Coronavirus Rental and Utility Assistance program where eligible applicants may receive up to $4,500 per month for rent and no cap per month for qualifying utilities. Please consider these resources, know your rights, and seek assistance if needed,” said Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami, Kaua‘i County.
The state urges renters to:
- RESPOND to the mediation center when they contact you.
- APPLY for rental assistance.
- CALL for help with legal assistance if you need it, to make sure you know your rights.
RESOURCES FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE:
- The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is accepting applications for help with electricity bills through June 30: https://www.hcapweb.org/low-income-home-energy-assistance-program-liheap/
- The Hale Kākou Utility Assistance Program can help qualified households with their electricity, water and sewer, and gas bills: (https://www.hcapweb.org/hale-kakou/)
Hawai‘i County: www.HawaiiCountyERAP.org
Kauaʻi County: https://kauairenthelp.com/
- DHHL Emergency Rental Assistance Program: www.hawaiiancouncil.org/dhhl. Must be Native Hawaiian.
- The Emergency Broadband Benefit can help eligible households with internet bills and in some cases, buy laptops, desktops, and tablet computers: https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit.
Oʻahu: Mediation Center of the Pacific at https://www.mediatehawaii.org/
East Hawai‘i: Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center at https://hawaiimediation.org/
West Hawai‘i: West Hawai‘i Mediation Center at https://whmediation.org/our-services/landlord-tenant
Maui County: Maui Mediation Services at https://www.mauimediation.org/landlordtenant/
Kauaʻi County: Kauai Economic Opportunity, Inc. Mediation Program at (808) 245-4077 x229 or x237 or [email protected]
For More Information:
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii: https://www.legalaidhawaii.org/i-cant-pay-my-rent-mortgage.html
Mediation Center of the Pacific: https://www.mediatehawaii.org/landlordtenant