Becoming a Maui Vacation Rental Host: Potential Barriers (Part 2)

January 2, 2018
Vacation Rental Owners

Many people’s dream of owning and enjoying a Maui vacation home can be achieved by offering their home as a vacation rental. 

However, before you purchase a home in Hawaii and jump into the vacation rental business, be sure you know all the facts and steps that you will need to take to ensure your vacation rental dream becomes a legal, permitted business.

In our previous post, So You Want to Become a Maui Vacation Rental Owner, we offered a general overview of the permitting process for Maui vacation rentals and some important considerations. 

Before you commit to any house or condo in Maui, go through this checklist of factors that could affect your ability to obtain a permit.

Time and cost

As mentioned in our previous post, the time and cost factor alone is an important consideration. Expect to spend up to $4000 or more and wait up to six months to be approved.

Proximity to neighbors

Legally, you have to submit a notice to all neighbors within 500 feet of your vacation rental that you will be applying for a bed and breakfast or short term rental permit. First off, this can turn into a huge expense if you have a condo complex next door when you pay for postage to send notices. 

Typically one unhappy neighbor won’t be enough to stop your permit from going through, but if there are a substantial number of complaints to the idea of running a vacation rental business, then that could back you into some issues.

Site plans, safety inspections, and other documentation

When you submit your permit application, you are required to send in all documentation and paperwork pertaining to your home’s structure and safety. 

Be prepared to invest a fair bit of time into this step because it involves sending in site maps and scheduling a safety inspector. 

If all checks out and your neighbors are not opposed, then your documentation could be easily approved. But if there is opposition from neighbors or other concerns such as unpermitted work done to the home, then you will be required to present to the planning commission.

Planning Commission 

The commission is made of nine unpaid volunteers. They review proposed land use ordinances, advise the mayor and related parties on planning programs, and handle all matters in relation to coastal zone law, which involves ensuring that the limited coastal land is protected. 

The main goal for the planning commission when it comes to vacation rentals is making sure that they fulfill the need for rental options for visitors while protecting full-time residents and their neighborhoods (Maui Planning Commission). 

Many vacation rental owners back out of the process if they have to go to a hearing because the sheer idea of the public scrutiny is enough to scare them away. 

Typically, the planning commission does rule more favorably on bed and breakfast permit applications because the commission prefers to see people living on-island generating income. But if you do your research or get outside help from a consultant, you should be able to make it through the commission hearing. 

Remember that before you go before the planning commission, you are required to do the following:

  • Schedule your hearing at least 60 days out of your permit being processed
  • Notify your neighbours within 30 days of the hearing, which involves sending a written notice

Zoning laws

When you are buying your vacation home, carefully consider factors such as where the home is located and how the area is zoned. If it is in a residential area, residents may be more likely to oppose a short term rental application. 

Residential areas may be concerned with increased traffic of short term visitors coming in and out of the neighborhood, noise concerns or parking issues. 

There are also factors to consider if your property is on land zoned for agricultural purposes. We will cover this in more detail in Part 3.

Pris Lee

Aloha! I'm Pris and I am the head of marketing at Hawaii Chee. I'm quite partial to a good cup of coffee, hiking and horse back riding along the beach. And chocolate. Always chocolate...

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