Mediation Specialist Shares Tips as Hawaiʻi's Eviction Moratorium Ends Soon
The statewide eviction moratorium that has been in place since April 2020 will come to an end on Aug. 6. That could force many people financially impacted by the pandemic to find new housing when median home prices are hovering around a million dollars, and rental inventory is shrinking.
To ease a potentially tumultuous situation after the moratorium ends, Gov. David Ige signed Act 57 into law last month. The measure makes significant changes to the state’s eviction process and incentivizes mediation for renter-landlord disputes.
The Conversation sat down with Tracey Wiltgen, executive director of the Mediation Center of the Pacific, to learn more about Act 57 and how it changes eviction procedures.
The law increases the notice time that landlords are required to provide tenants from five days to 15 days if they're planning to start an eviction process. If the tenants agree to mediation and schedule a mediation session within 15 days, then it becomes a 30-day notice.
She said the law also provides tenants with the opportunity to participate in a free mediation process with their landlords.
For landlords who want to file for eviction, Act 57 also creates a tiered process to prevent an avalanche of cases overwhelming the courts.
"So rather than every landlord being able to file for eviction when the moratorium ends on August 6, instead, what Act 57 does is only landlords with tenants who are four months or more behind on their rent can provide the tenant with a notice that they're moving forward with eviction," Wiltgen said, adding that the requirements change in the months following.
The first month after the moratorium ends, Wiltgen said the mediation center could potentially see 2,500 eviction notices and requests for mediation.
In the meantime, she said tenants should be applying for rental assistance if they have not, talking to a financial counselor, and looking at resources that could help them find and identify a new place to live.
This segment aired on The Conversation on July 20, 2021.
The State of Hawaiʻi, has created a resource page for tenants and landlords with links to financial assistance programs and mediation services. (Link) The CDC's eviction order currently applies to the state's four main counties — Hawaiʻi, Maui, Kauaʻi and Honolulu. However, the order only applies to people who have applied for rental assistance and meet certain financial benchmarks. The CDC recommends renters should fill out the CDC declaration form to see if they qualify. (Link)