1. Act Promptly
One of the most important things to do is to take prompt action when any problem arises pertaining to your tenancy. In a normal landlord-tenant relationship, the tenant pays the landlord on time for each month's rent and there is very little other interaction between the landlord and the tenant. If there is anything else that occurs - such as receiving a notice of a house rules violation(s), receiving a notice to pay rent, being told that your lease is terminating - take immediate action to try and remedy the problem. Problems become much more difficult to solve as time passes.
2. Make a paper trail
If problems arise with your tenancy (ex. if you receive a rule violation notice, if your landlord refuses to make requested repairs, etc.), send a letter to your landlord about the problems. If you are cited for a rule violation you did not commit, contest in writing. Try to be cordial in your communications. Make sure you keep a copy of everything you send your landlord.
3. Request a hearing
If disputes arise for public housing tenants or tenants with Section 8 vouchers, the tenant will often have the right to a hearing. However, the hearing must be requested promptly or the tenant will forfeit their right. If a tenant receives a violation notice, unless the tenant does not dispute the violation and does not dispute that the violation should have adverse consequences, the tenant should request a hearing.
Tenants of public housing who are facing eviction will be scheduled for an eviction hearing in front of a Hawaii Public Housing Authority Eviction Board. If the tenant does not attend the hearing, the tenant will be evicted. Some tenants have the false impression that if they tell the eviction board excuses for why they violated their rental agreement (ex. why they didn't pay their rent), the eviction board will be lenient and will give them another chance - this is not the case. The eviction hearing is a tenant's final opportunity to dispute the eviction. Tenants should be prepared to present evidence and forcefully argue why they did not violate their lease as alleged. Similarly, for evictions carried out in court, judges will not be swayed by excuses for why the tenant violated the lease. Tenants must attend their court hearings and must be prepared to present evidence as to why they did not violate their lease.
4. Get help
Do not wait to get help with housing issues. People often wait until it is clear that they cannot resolve an issue on their own. Unfortunately, the issue may be irresolvable at that point and so the sooner that you seek help on issues that threaten your housing the better. Organizations that assist people facing housing problems have limited resources. Legal Aid, for example, can only represent a limited number of people in court. However, if you seek help early on, it will often take far less effort to resolve your problem and you will be more likely to receive the help you need.