In our September 3, 2008 entry we discussed the duties owed by a landlord to a tenant under Hawaii Law. A tenant owes certain duties to her landlord as well. A landlord is not responsible for repairing all defective conditions on the premises. Under Hawaii Law, a tenant is responsible for maintaining the premises. H.R.S 521-51 provides as follows:
Each tenant shall at all times during the tenancy:
(1) Comply with all applicable building and housing laws materially affecting health and safety;
(2) Keep that part of the premises which the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the conditions of the premises permit;
(3) Dispose from the tenant’s dwelling unit all rubbish, garbage, and other organic or flammable waste in a clean and safe manner;
(4) Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits;
(5) Properly use and operate all electrical and plumbing fixtures and appliances in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant;
(6) Not permit any person on the premises with the tenant’s permission to willfully destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises which include the dwelling unit or the facilities, equipment, or appurtenances thereto, nor oneself do any such thing;
(7) Keep the dwelling unit and all facilities, appliances, furniture, and furnishings supplied therein by the landlord in fit condition, reasonable wear and tear excepted; and
(8) Comply with all obligations, restrictions, rules, and the like which are in accordance with section 521-52 and which the landlord can demonstrate are reasonably necessary for the preservation of the property and protection of the persons of the landlord, other tenants, or any other person.
Furthermore, if a tenant fails to comply with these duties, the landlord has the following option:
(a) If the tenant is in material noncompliance with section 521-51, the landlord, upon learning of any such noncompliance and after notifying the tenant in writing of the noncompliance and allowing a specified time not less than ten days after receipt of the notice, for the tenant to remedy the noncompliance:
(1) May terminate the rental agreement and bring a summary proceeding for possession of the dwelling unit or any other proper proceeding, action, or suit for possession if the tenant is in material noncompliance with section 521- 51(1); or
(2) May remedy the tenant’s failure to comply and bill the tenant for the actual and reasonable cost of such remedy if the noncompliance can be remedied by the landlord by cleaning, repairing, replacing a damaged item, or the like, which bill shall be treated by all parties as rent due and payable on the next regular rent collection date or, if the tenancy has terminated, immediately upon receipt by the tenant.
H.R.S. 521-69 (emphasis added).
As such, the tenant is responsible for keeping the premises in “fit condition”. The tenant is also responsible for using all of the electrical, plumbing fixtures, and appliances properly and keep them clean. If any defective condition results from improper care or usage by the tenant, he/she is responsible for fixing such conditions, not the landlord.