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Hawaii Homestead Laws

When you dream of owning a home, the thought of losing it to debt can be a nightmare. Luckily for Aloha State homeowners, homestead protection laws can help to protect people from losing their homes in the event of a bankruptcy. Homestead statutes allow a person in debt to set aside a specific amount of real or personal property, referred to as a "homestead," that would be off limits to certain creditors. This is a quick introduction to homestead laws in Hawaii.

Homestead Statutes in Hawaii

State homestead laws can vary in the limits they place on the value or acreage of property to be designated as a homestead. Hawaii law limits the homestead exemption to $30,000 if the debtor is the head of a family or over 65 years old, and $20,000 for everyone else. Hawaii’s homestead statutes are listed below.

Code Section

Hawaii Revised Statutes 651-92: Real Property Exempt

Max. Property Value That May Be Designated 'Homestead'

$30,000 if head of family or 65 years old; $20,000 for all others

Maximum Acreage (Urban)


Maximum Acreage (Rural)


Homestead Exceptions

While Hawaii’s homestead laws can keep some property exempt from most creditors, there are four general exceptions to this rule:

  • If there was a pre-existing lien on the property before the establishment of homestead;
  • If the homestead property was specifically pledged as credit for a mortgage;
  • If you owe past due taxes to the State of Hawaii and Hawaii counties or municipalities; or
  • If you owe money to mechanics, contractors, or builders for work performed in repairing or improving the property.

And because these homestead protections exist as state laws, they may not protect you from federal income tax liens. The Constitution’s Supremacy Clause means that federal laws override state laws if there is an overlap or a conflict of law. That said, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) normally won’t foreclose on a citizen’s home to collect on a tax debt, and will only get involved if a homestead property is mortgaged or sold off before the federal tax lien has expired.

Related Resources for Homestead Laws in Hawaii

State property laws governing homestead exemptions, and the exceptions to them, can be complicated. If you would like legal help with a homestead issue, you can consult with an experienced Hawaii real estate attorney or a Hawaii bankruptcy attorney. And FindLaw’s section on Homestead Protections can provide you with further reading and resources on this topic.

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