Landlord cannot use TRO for eviction
Question: I know my landlord wants to evict me, and she said she's going to get a Temporary Restraining Order to get me out of my apartment. Can she do that legally?
Answer: According to Mike Callahan, Legal Aid housing attorney, no. A landlord cannot circumvent the District Court eviction process by getting a TRO instead; this would be unlawful. But landlords do utilize this method sometimes, thinking it's a shortcut. To evict a tenant, they must avail themselves of the Summary Possession process of the District Court. Sometimes a situation becomes acrimonious, giving cause for one party (landlord or tenant) to get a TRO against the other, but the court should craft language that does not interfere with the tenant's contractual rights -- especially if the tenant is not occupying the same residence as the landlord.
Q: Is it legal for a landlord to specify a renter make some arbitrary income factor relative to the rent? For example, some landlords specify you must make 2.5 times the monthly rent, others three times, etc. This seems to be a way for landlords to circumvent fair-housing laws. If they don't like your looks, all they have to say is, "By the way, we require you make 10 times the monthly rent."
Further, this seems bogus since no one is loaning you money or extending credit; the landlord has most likely already run a credit check and contacted previous landlords to verify your worthiness to rent.
This is of concern to me as a person on disability. I have excellent credit (FICO score: 784) and have excellent references from previous landlords, yet I can't even look at certain places due to this arbitrary income restriction.
A: Well, there are instances where discrimination is lawful ... as in this case. Landlords may discriminate on the basis of "financial well-being."
However, if a person thinks a potential landlord is using income as a pretext for discriminating against a protected class (e.g., race, religion, family status), then it would be their burden to prove it, which in reality is pretty hard. In that case you should call our intake line at 536-4302.
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii operates statewide. Practice areas include housing, public benefits, consumer and family law but not criminal law. For information, call 536-4302. Submit questions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu 96813.