Home invasion can take a physical toll on the property and the tenant’s personal belongings, however the most damaging impact this has is on an emotional level. After a break in, most people feel violated and go through a period where they do not feel safe in their home. This is very discomforting because if you don’t feel safe at home, where do you feel safe? Then they start to worry about their children and if a parent doesn’t feel safe, they are going to do whatever is necessary to protect their family.
How to respond?
The first steps are obvious; contacting the Honolulu police department, filing a police report, maybe staying with family or a friend for a night or two. For those who are new to the area, they may elect to go to a hotel. Notifying the landlord is very important so that they are aware of what is going on. While there is very little they can do, it may help later on if you were going to try to move-out of the property.
Who takes care of repairs to the property?
When contacting your landlord, inform them whether or not there was physical damage to the property. In most cases, a landlord is not responsible for the tenant’s personal belongings as this is usually covered through renters insurance. Things such as appliances are generally considered personal property of the landlord, unless you supplied them, so before replacing those items, be sure to speak to the police and have them note in the police report that the owner’s belongings were also stolen/damaged. This will help later on if the landlord is resistant when it comes to replacing their personal property because you did your part by notifying the police and including it within the report.
Actual damage to the property is somewhat questionable. Reviewing the lease is key because in most states, it is not defined who is responsible for property damage but this could be defined within the lease terms. If the lease states that the tenant is responsible, then take whatever action is necessary to secure the property while the dust settles. You can always ask the landlord later on to see if they will assist in whatever costs or discuss it with an attorney to find out if its enforceable, but if the property is not secured property and more damage is done to the home, you may be responsible for not taking the necessary steps to secure the home.
What if I want to move out?
In most cases, someone breaking in and entering a property is not covered by Hawaii law or the lease agreement which means its subjective. Some attorneys will say the tenant can terminate the lease while others do not. At this point, the best thing to do is to wait a couple days for the dust to settle. As time passes, you may find yourself feeling more secure in the property and the urge to move goes away. If it doesn’t after some time passes, then speak to your landlord and be upfront with them. Don’t give them a dramatic sob story, but let them know how this has left your feeling violated, insecure in the home, and that you fear for the safety of your family.
The landlord may sympathize with you and allow you to move out. Alternatively, be prepared to negotiate with the property owner by offering them some form of concession. At this point, you might be wondering, why should I have to compensate the owner if I’m the one suffering? The reason being is that the landlord is not living in the home and they cannot control whether or not something like this will happen. While its an unfortunate set of circumstances, there is a lease agreement that is still potentially binding and moving out early generally violates these lease terms.
Communication with the landlord is key. By keeping them informed, you increase the likelihood that they may honor your request to move-out early. Before making such a request, be sure to give it sometime to allow the initial shock subside so that you can make a sound decision before rushing into anything because your emotions are high.
November 11, 2013