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Eviction moratorium to end in August | News, Sports, Jobs



State officials and social service agencies are bracing for a potential wave of landlord-tenant disputes with the moratorium on evictions set to end Aug. 6. Gov. David Ige announced Thursday that the state will not extend the moratorium again. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Bracing for a wave of potential evictions, state officials and social service agencies are urging landlords and tenants to prepare for mediation as Gov. David Ige announced that the state will not extend the moratorium on evictions when it ends Aug. 6.

“We need to find out what the true situation is about those who are behind in rent, and until we end the moratorium, we will not know how many people are behind in rent and we would not be able to move forward.” Ige said during a news conference Thursday.

In place since April 17, 2020, the moratorium sought to protect tenants who were out of work and unable to afford rent due to the pandemic. Counties launched rental assistance programs that allowed tenants to apply for funding that would go to their landlords.

“Still, there are those who might not have been able to catch up on their rent,” Ige said. “The state, the counties and the Legislature have been working with service providers to put together a program and plan to mitigate the impact of evictions once the moratorium ends.”

A law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor last month temporarily requires landlords and tenants to undergo mediation before any court eviction filing.

Maui state Rep. Troy Hashimoto answers questions Thursday about a recently enacted law that aims to help landlords and tenants with the eviction moratorium coming to an end. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

Central Maui Rep. Troy Hashimoto, the primary introducer of the bill, said lawmakers cooked up the plan in December knowing the eviction moratorium would eventually come to an end and possibly overwhelm the court system.

“Only those who are four months or more in back rent will be able to go through this process for the first 30 days, with those with less back rent tiering in every 60 days to allow for efficient processing of mediation requests,” Hashimoto explained. “I know that this solution may not be perfect, but the top priority is getting back to a sense of normalcy for landlords while balancing the housing needs of those who legitimately are facing hardships.”

When a landlord sends an eviction notice to a tenant, the notice will simultaneously be sent to the community mediation center on the island where the tenant resides, explained Tracey Wiltgen, executive director of The Mediation Center of the Pacific. The local mediation center will reach out to the tenant, and if the mediation isn’t scheduled within 15 days, the landlord can move forward with the eviction process. If mediation is scheduled, the landlord will not be able to evict for 30 days from the date of the notice.

Wiltgen said landlords can still move forward if mediation is scheduled outside of the 30-day period, but they must indicate to the court that they requested or attempted mediation. Courts may try to move hearings after the mediation.

“It’s truly hard to say how many will access the services.” Wiltgen said. “Based on original projections, there were approximately 10,000 tenants behind on their rent. Working with different individuals, we’re expecting 1,500 to 2,000 notices to be filed with the mediation centers initially.”

Gov. David Ige discusses the moratorium on evictions, which is set to end Aug. 6, during a news conference on Thursday. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

Sessions will be scheduled for an hour and a half, but more time can be allotted if needed, Wiltgen said. Follow-ups are not anticipated, “since time is running, and if they’re not able to reach an agreement, the landlord is going to be able to move forward with the eviction process,” she added.

One of the first questions mediators will likely ask is whether the tenant applied for rental assistance, which was available across the state. Some tenants may not have understood the process. Others may have not received a response to their application and gave up.

“There may be reasons why they weren’t eligible for rental assistance,” Wiltgen said. “Sometimes in a lot of situations we’ve seen landlord and tenant haven’t talked to each other at all. The tenant may be in a new situation. Maybe they now have a job and they’re able to start doing a payment plan, so that certainly can be a focus. I think there’s several different options that can be looked at in mediation to help them reach an agreement.”

Hashimoto said the tiering system that allows tenants most behind in their rent to apply first before steadily opening it up to others is designed to help mediation centers handle “the onslaught of applications” and allow the courts system to catch up on evictions.

“I think the anticipation is that the most will come when there is one month and above (of rent owed) because most people according to our statistics are about a month behind in rent,” he said. “And so I think that we’re hoping that by the time that happens, the program will be ramped up and will be able to handle that.”

With the deadline less than a month away, Ige said renters and landlords should get familiar with the new law and prepare to seek legal aid and mediation.

“Our message today to renters and landlords is clear — please respond to the mediation center when they contact you, apply for rental assistance, call for help with legal assistance if you need to make sure you understand your right.” the governor urged.

Rental assistance, legal aid and other resources are available at:

• Office of the Governor:

• Legal Aid Society of Hawaii:

• Mediation Center of the Pacific: landlordtenant.

• Maui Mediation Services:

• Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Emergency Rental Assistance Program:

• Emergency Broadband Benefit to help with internet bills and buy devices: broadbandbenefit.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at [email protected]

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