Housing is a Human Right Honolulu Tenants Union

Covid-19 Information for Renters

In response to the Covid-19 crisis, many tenants have lost their jobs or are suffering from reduced hours — nearly one quarter (160,000) of Hawaiʻi’s workers filed for unemployment in March alone. Over 14,000 people have already signed a petition demanding a rent and mortgage freeze.

Please call the Governor's office at (808) 586-0034 (or online here) and demand a statewide rent and mortgage moratorium. We must protect each other. The Governor's office may attempt to ask you to submit commentary online, but you should not be required to, computer and internet access are more difficult or impossible with libraries closed.

During the Pandemic Emergency Resources

Have you lost your job?

File for unemployment with the Hawai'i Department of Labor. Even if you are a worker for an online company that doesn't consider you an employee, there are options available with the Department of Labor during this emergency.

Is your landlord trying to shut off utilities or lock you out of your home?

The landlord-tenant code forbids these actions (see the handbook), and Legal Aid has forms to fight them.

Is your landlord harassing you or making inappropriate requests?

The Hawai'i State Commission on the Status of Women has information that may help.

Do you need emergency funding?

Unable to afford rent?

Nobody should have to choose between having enough food and medicine or paying their landlord during this crisis — housing is a human right. Governor Ige's Fifth Supplementary Proclamation forbids evictions statewide for nonpayment of rent during this time and includes penalties for landlords who violate the proclamation.

There is a separate federal prohibition against evictions that is also in effect: Until July 26th property owners are prohibited from filing for eviction against or charging any fees for unpaid rent or fees to tenants in properties with federally-guaranteed loans or participating in federal housing programs. Property owners must also issue their tenants a notice to vacate 45 days before an eviction, which cannot be issued during this 120-day period.

This protection covers properties that receive federal subsidies such as public housing, Section 8 assistance, USDA rural housing programs, and Low Income Housing Tax Credits, as well as properties that have a mortgage issued or guaranteed by a federal agency (including FHA and USDA) or Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Additionally, owners of multifamily buildings with federal loans in forbearance may not evict tenants for unpaid rent or charge late fees or penalties until the loan exits forbearance.

Tenants seeking information on whether they are covered by the federal moratorium should contact Legal Aid Society of Hawai'i, Volunteer Legal Services, or an HUD-approved housing counselor. You can find the nearest housing counselor here or by calling (800) 569-4287.

Is your landlord's mortgage still due?

Mortgages backed by the FHA, USDA, VA, HUD Section 184a, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac can be suspended for up to 180 days under forbearance due to the coronavirus without additional interest, fees, or penalties. An additional 180 days may be added at the borrower's request. Tell your landlord to talk to their mortgage provider about forbearance under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) act. There is also a foreclosure eviction moratorium as part of the CARES act.

Need more help?

We have sample letters on Google Docs in order to write to your landlord and ask for a rent reduction/pause or to inform your landlord that their eviction notice cannot be enforced during the Governor's proclamation. Click here for those letters.

Please reach out to Coronacare Hawai'i via their online intake form. Volunteers can help you look for more resources.