Gov. David Ige ratified a law Wednesday aimed at minimizing the number of court eviction cases when his eviction moratorium ends in August.
House Bill 1376 temporarily requires landlords and tenants to seek mediation as a prerequisite for any court eviction filing, instead of the current practice of requiring mediation after the filing.
“With many people still struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic, we need to make sure families are not evicted when there may be a way to negotiate a solution that is good for all the parties involved,” said Oahu Rep. Troy N. Hashimoto, the primary introducer of the bill, in a statement. “Legislators knew this eviction moratorium would end at some point and did not want to see any families become homeless.”
Under the language of the new law, the notice of termination for rental agreements has been extended from five to 15 days to allow time for mediation.
It also requires landlords to concurrently provide notices of termination for rental agreements to both tenants and a mediation center, while the centers themselves are required to set up a mediation appointment within 30 days of receipt of the notice.
These requirements take effect Aug. 7, the day after the moratorium ends, and priority will be given to those four months or more behind in rent.
“The intent is to not overwhelm the mediators and the court system as they work through what is expected to be a backlog of cases,” said Hashimoto. “This will help to ensure that tenants also have the opportunity to apply for rental assistance if they qualify.”