2017 Legislative Update

By Christopher J.I. Leong
cjil@hawaiilawyer.com

The Hawaii State Legislature concluded its 2017 Regular Session with 217 bills becoming law. Here are a few of the noteworthy new laws.

Withholding Tax (Act 7).

Effective January 1, 2018, all employers in the state will be required to file their returns of withheld income tax quarterly rather than monthly. The legislature did not change the payment requirements, however, which means that employers whose withholding tax liability is between $5,000 and $40,000 annually must continue to remit withheld tax on a monthly basis, and those with more than $40,000 in annual tax liability must remit on a semi-weekly basis.

Condominiums.

The legislature passed several bills this year amending various aspects of the condominium law. Act 71, for example, requires condominium boards and resident managers to make available to unit owners, upon request, copies of contracts (including the written job description and compensation amount) between the association and any person retained on-site to manage the operation of the property. Act 73 clarifies that for purposes of voting by proxy, if a proxy form is returned to the board with no box checked or more than one box checked, that proxy shall be counted for quorum only and cannot be used for any other purpose. (Act 101 also establishes this rule for non-condominium planned community associations.) Act 81 requires boards to permit unit owners to participate in board meetings (except when the board goes into executive session), pursuant to owner participation rules adopted by the board. The same act also requires notices for board meetings to include a list of items expected to be on the meeting agenda, and also provides that board members may violate their fiduciary duty to the association if they violate the mandatory mediation and arbitration requirements contained in the condominium law. Act 190 also makes it unlawful to retaliate against a unit owner, board member, managing agent, resident manager, or association employee who makes a complaint or report alleging a violation of the condominium law or the condominium’s governing documents.

Affordable Housing.

The legislature also passed a number of bills aimed at the continually pressing need to create, maintain, and expand the stock of affordable housing units in this state. Act 54 allows the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation to exempt the construction of certain affordable rental housing projects from general excise tax and use tax costs. Act 159 authorizes qualified nonprofit housing trusts to repurchase affordable housing units developed with government assistance when the unit owner seeks to sell the unit during the applicable restriction period and the HHFDC waives its first right of refusal to repurchase the unit. Act 166 allows an extended family member or hanai family member to act as a co-mortgagor in assisting an otherwise qualified resident in securing a mortgage to purchase an affordable housing unit from the HHFDC.

Family Law (Act 113).

Act 113 enacts the Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act, which permits the use of arbitration to resolve certain family law and child-related disputes, including child custody, visitation, and child support. It may not be used, however, in cases of divorce, termination of parental rights, the granting of adoption or guardianship, or in proceedings to determine the status of a child in need of protection.

Residential Rental Agreements (Act 179).

Act 179 applies to all new residential rental agreements and all renewals entered into on or after November 1, 2017, and provides that where the rental agreement provides for a late charge payable to the landlord when rent is not timely paid, such late charge shall not exceed 8% of the amount of rent due.

For more information on any of these topics, please contact Mr. Leong at cjil@hawaiilawyer.com.

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