Tenant says she's being retaliated against for reporting health, safety violations
KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
The Nanakuli woman who claims her landlord is retaliating against her for reporting health and safety violations at his property won an initial victory Tuesday when a judge ordered him to give her all her possessions that he's kept under lock and key for 10 days.
"Yes, that's all I want is my things," Wendy Guerrero told District Judge Gerald Kibe at the Kapolei courthouse Tuesday morning.
Guerrero had called Hawaii News Now last month to complain about illegal sewage tanks leaking raw sewage connected to the trailer she and her boyfriend rented on Robert Hoohuli's Nanakuli property off Paakea Road.
Hoohuli got an eviction notice against Guerrero when she and her boyfriend stopped paying her $1000-a-month rent, she said, because of the smelly sewage tanks that the state Health Department has cited the landlord for and he has since removed.
"We paid for half of June until he made the repairs. At that point, when he refused to make repairs, that's when I called the Board of Health to come down and look into our system which they found was an illegal hookup," Guerrero said.
Hoohuli delivered her an eviction notice and ten days ago locked her and her boyfriend out of their trailer, and they haven't been able to retrieve any of their possessions.
"It is retaliation in its highest form against a tenant or any person blowing the whistle on bad living conditions. No family should have to live through something like we have," Guerrero said.
Hoohuli got a stern lecture from Kibe, the judge who issued an order Tuesday, telling him to allow her to retrieve her possessions under police escort, after Hoohuli had rebuffed a previous attempt to reclaim her things.
"It's your responsibility, Mr. Hoohuli, to facilitate getting the property back to them. If you don't do that, they could bring a claim against you," Kibe told Hoohuli.
Hoohuli declined Hawaii News Now’s requests for an interview.
City officials said he has refused to allow inspectors onto his property to look for illegal structures and exposed electrical wiring. An inspection report filed by one city inspector said Hoohuli has been “argumentative” with them and recommends going to court to get a warrant to force him to give them access. The inspector also recommended a police escort for city inspectors when they return to his property, which is full of several homes, trailers, an old bus and other structures where different families live.
The city discovered defective electrical work on Hoohuli’s property last October and Hoohuli failed to correct the violation seven months later, city officials said. The city issued an initial fine of $50 that could increase, a city spokesman said.
Both Guerrero and Hoohuli will return to District Court in Kapolei on September 8 to fight over whether she owes him any rent for the last two months.