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Kokua Line: Is there a template for tenant notification under Hawaii’s new eviction law?

Question: Regarding the evictions (808ne.ws/evmo), is there a template for these notices? I want to make sure I get this right. It’s a difficult situation.

Answer: The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, one of several organizations providing resources for tenants or landlords anticipating an eviction process when Hawaii’s pandemic-era eviction moratorium ends next month, has a checklist on its website, legalaidhawaii.org. Go to 808ne.ws/evasst and scroll down until you see “Non-Payment of Rent Notice Requirements.”

Although not a form template, the checklist does explain what information the landlord must give the tenant before filing for eviction, and how far in advance. The new notification requirements, enshrined in state law, are “much more complicated than the (old) 5-day notice to quit for nonpayment,” Legal Aid says on its website, noting that landlords may wish to seek legal advice before proceeding.

The Mediation Center of the Pacific, meanwhile, which will play a key role on Oahu under the new law, has PDFs on its website summarizing the new rules for landlords and tenants, downloadable at mediate hawaii.org/semp. One misunderstood element, based on other readers’ questions, is the timeline; the moratorium’s demise won’t mean landlords can swiftly evict all delinquent tenants.

As the Mediation Center explains, “The moratorium that has prevented you from evicting your tenant for non-payment of rent over the past 15 months will end on August 6, 2021. Starting August 7, 2021, if your tenant is four months or more behind on their rent, you may send a notice to your tenant informing them that you will move forward with the eviction process if they do not pay the rent or schedule a mediation session within 15 days from the notice.”

Tenants who are less than four months can’t be notified as soon as the moratorium is lifted. Those who are three months behind can be notified in September, two months behind in November, and one month behind in January.

Q: Regarding the child care subsidy, our daughter got a letter from the president the other day saying that her family is eligible and specifying the amount they will receive. Not sure if this is universal but it might be worth mentioning — I’m sure you’ll get more queries.

A: Yes, these notices — Letter 6417, on White House letterhead and signed by President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — discuss the 2021 Child Tax Credit for families with dependents younger than 18. They were sent to eligible recipients for whom the IRS has information on file.

Families who received the letter can expect to receive advance Child Tax Credit payments automatically, according to the IRS.

However, some eligible families won’t have received the letter, because they earn so little that they don’t file federal income taxes (and therefore the IRS does not have direct deposit information or a mailing address for them), and are not part of another federal program that shared their contact information with the IRS.

Any parent who has not received the letter and thinks they should have can use tools on the IRS website to confirm eligibility and payments. They should go to irs.gov, click on the header that says “Get Details on the Advance Child Tax Credit,” and follow the directions to use separate tools to check eligibility, submit information to enroll, and manage payments.

Q: What’s Honolulu’s vaccination rate when you only count people 12 and older, who can get the shots? I want to know how many people aren’t getting the shots who could.

A: In Honolulu County, 71% of the population age 12 and older was fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, slightly higher than the statewide average for that group (69.1%), according o the state Department of Health.

Those percentages drop when the entire population is included, to 61% and 59.1%, respectively. But as you note, children younger than 12 aren’t eligible for the vaccine yet.

Fully vaccinated means it’s been at least 15 days since a person completed their vaccine regimen.

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.

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