HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow/Gray News) – In a shocking case, a Hawaiian renter is suing her landlord for allegedly trespassing, taking her belongings and using drugs in her kitchen while she was away.
The suit by the Japanese national also alleges that the man was caught on security camera apparently masturbating in her living room.
“She was shocked. She is still traumatized,” said her attorney, Andrew Daiske Stewart. “You feel safe in your own dwelling, but when something like this happens, I can’t imagine,”
Advocates said the case is a stark reminder that tenants have a right to privacy, and landlords who violate that can face consequences.
According to the suit, the woman moved into the duplex in Waipahu back in August 2021 and, shortly after that, began to notice that her belongings were being removed or moved around.
After installing several security cameras, the woman found that her landlord was entering her apartment while she was away ― eating her food, rummaging through her drawers and taking her belongings.
Two of the videos also show the man apparently masturbating, and one taken on March 26 shows him reaching into the pocket of a camouflage jacket for a pipe and smoking some kind of drug.
“She’s going to have to carry this experience to where she moves or rents next,” Stewart said.
He added his client has filed a temporary restraining order along with a complaint with the Honolulu Police Department, which initially declined to investigate the case.
Stewart said they turned it down because they initially thought the woman didn’t have a formal lease and that she was renting a room in the house and was not living in a separate ohana unit.
But a check of city building permits show that the rental until was built as an add-on in 2012 and that the apartment has a separate entrances.
Police now say they plan to reach out to the victim and will review the case further.
HNN attempted contacting the owner by phone and in person, but was unable to reach him. He is not being identified in this story because he isn’t charged with a crime.
Dan O’Meara, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, said landlords have to have a specific reason for entering an apartment, such as a leaky faucet or backed-up toilet. “Only if there’s an emergency can a landlord come in, and clearly in this situation that wasn’t the case,” he said.
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