Real Estate Law

On Tuesday, Honolulu signed into law a new measure that allows the city to punish messy neighbors -- even forcibly remove abandoned vehicles, trash, overhanging trees and dead wood from properties without the owner's consent.

Bill 52 allows Honolulu residents to write a complaint about their messy neighbor to the city's Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP). If the letter explains why the neighbor's neglected yard is resulting in an unsanitary or unsafe environment and/or destroys one's ability to quietly enjoy one's residential property, then it will trigger an investigation. Following the investigation, the DPP will be able to seek a court order giving it the power to remove any hazards from the property and charge the owner for the cost.

Without Bill 52, the DPP cannot forcibly remove items from a homeowner's property. However, they could implement fines, put a lien on a home or property and take it into foreclosure. According to the director of the DPP, the bill gives the DPP another method for resolving the problem of a dirty property without actually making the homeowner homeless through the foreclosure process.

No Flammable Weeds in Excess of 18 Inches

In the language of the law, examples are given that might result in a DPP investigation. Those include nauseous odors, insect infestations, rodents, vermin and flammable weeds that are over 18 inches tall.

Although the new measure is in place in Honolulu, it will be some time before the DPP can begin to enforce it. Funding and rules have to be organized, contractors need to be contracted and a storage facility for potentially valuable items needs to be arranged. The director of the DPP says that they are creating the budget now.

Is This Infringing on the Rights of Property Owners?

This Honolulu law would certainly make sense to anyone who is suffering from having to deal with a messy neighbor next door. But is it too much? What if someone simply has unique taste in the way one wants to decorate one's property and gets punished for it? What do you think about this law and do you think that more cities throughout the nation should adopt similar legislation?