State warns of illegal evictions

State warns of illegal evictions
Bruce Kim
Bruce Kim

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Big Island residents fleeing from their homes because of the lava flow are facing a new threat but this time it's man made.

The state Office of Consumer Protection said it has received a number of complaints from landlords and tenants that some landlords are trying to evict renters to make way for new tenants fleeing lava-threatened areas.

"I think it's pretty extreme where somebody kicks somebody out of their rental unit solely to get the opportunity to jack the rent up to people who are fleeing from the oncoming lava," said Bruce Kim, executive director of the Office of Consumer Protection.

Added State Sen. Russell Ruderman:

"I have been hearing about gouging of rents. I've heard about rents in one neighborhood going from the previous $1,500 a month to about $2,500 a month," he said.

"It's outrageous. I think people will pay the price in respect from their neighbors down the line."

Evicting renters on month-to-month arrangements is illegal because there's an emergency proclamation in place. According to Kim, landlords can terminate leases if renters violate the terms of their lease or the home is unfit to live it.

Violators face fines of up to $10,000 per day.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie issued the emergency proclamation in September after Tropical Storm Iselle hit. It's been extended to Dec.1.

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