I have received a notice from my landlord - What do I do now?
If you have received a notice from your landlord because you have not paid your rent or because you have violated the rules or lease, you need to decide if you want to fix the problem or move. If you know that you are no longer able to afford the rent because you lost your job, for example, it may be in your best interest to move in with family and/or friends temporarily. If you want to move after receiving notice, talk to your landlord and try to reach an agreeable date. Make sure to get any agreement in writing - even if it is a letter or e-mail to your landlord saying "Thank you for your understanding given the recent loss of my job. Per our conversation, I will be vacating the unit on March 15th. I look forward to seeing you at noon on the 15th for my move-out inspection." You need to think about which option is best for you.
If you have received a notice from your landlord which you believe is wrong, or if you know you are in violation of the rules or lease but cannot reach an agreement with your landlord, then you need to start preparing for eviction - the court process.
COURT ACTION: If you do not move out or fix the problem, your landlord must go to court and start a court action by filing a "Complaint for Summary Possession." Summary Possession means that the landlord wants to regain possession of the unit.
COURT PAPERS SERVED: After your landlord files the Complaint, the landlord must have a sheriff, police officer, process server, or someone over 18 years old who is not part of the eviction "serve" (give you) the court papers. The court papers do not have to be served to you personally, as long as it is given to a responsible person at your home who is 18 or older. Or the court may allow the notice to be "posted" (taped to your door). The landlord can also mail it via certified mail. These papers will tell you what the landlord wants and when to go to your first court date. Once you have been served with the Complaint, the court process to have you evicted begins.
Let's review what you can do once you received that written notice from your landlord -
DECIDE! You need to decide if you want to move out or not. You may have some reasons why you want to stay. Your landlord may be wronfully trying to make you move out. If you fight in court and lose, you may have to pay more than your back rent. You need to think about which option is best for you.
LOOK FOR NEW HOUSING! If you have received court papers, start looking for new housing as soon as possible. If the landlord wins, the judge may let you have a little time to move out, but he does not have to. The sheriff can remove you as soon as the "Writ of Possession" is issued.
PREPARE FOR YOUR NEXT HEARING! Your next hearing could be the Answer Date, the Pre-Trial (for Honolulu District Court only), or the Trial. This classroom covers each of those areas in the next few pages.