What if my rental unit has health/safety problems?
If there is a potential health or safety violation in your rental unit, you can send your landlord a letter AND/OR contact the appropriate government agency. When you call the government agency, they will send someone to inspect your rental unit to see if there is a building code/health/safety violation.
There are three primary departments you can contact: Electrical, Plumbing, and Vector Control (investigates conditions involving roaches, rats, and suspicious odors). Since staff in these departments is limited, there may be a long wait, or they may tell you that they cannot inspect. If this happens, keep a record of the date and time of your call and the name of the person.
Electrical and Plumbing inspections are not available on Kauai. You must hire a contractor or electrican to do an inspection. If there are any violations, you can turn in their report as proof.
Other helpful numbers in Oahu include:
Department of Health information: 586-4400
Building Cose Inspector: 523-4276
Noise Radiation and Indoor Air Quality: 586-4700
Environmental Concern Hotline: 527-5091
Water Pollution: 586-4309
If the agency finds a violation, they will write a report and contact your landlord. Once your landlord receives notice of the violation from the government agency, s/he has 5 business days to make the necessary repars. If the landlord cannot meet this 5-day deadline, s/he can request a deadline extension. But, if your landlord does not ask for a deadline extension and does not make the repairs within 5 business days, you can do one of three things:
Do a repair and deduct. Immediately make the necessary repairs, submit your receipts, and deduct the costs from your rent up to $500 for one month.
Write the landlord a letter, at least 5 business days before the work begins, with written signed estimates from two qualified professionals. Your landlord can request that you use a substitute. If s/he does not make a substitude request, you can have the repairs done using the lowest-costing professional. When you give your landlord receipts, you can deduct up to $500 or one month's rent, whichever is greater, for the expenses.
For serious health and safety violations, you may vacate on an emergency basis. We advise you to speak with Legal Aid before you do this.