Maui Vacation Rental Enforcement and What’s Next (Part 4)

January 2, 2018
Vacation Rental Owners

If you’ve read part onetwo, and three of this series, you know that the Maui permitting process for a vacation rental is not easy but is achievable if you take the time to research and gather information about the process.

You’ve probably read the series and thought, “I definitely won’t get approved” or “that’s a waste of money, I can just keep renting my place illegally and not get caught.” 

In reality, the enforcement department hasn’t conducted proactive searches for illegal rentals since 2015, so you might just get away with it.

However, there are still several ways in which illegal vacation rental homes on Maui can be caught and fined.

Request for Service

A neighbor fills out an RFS (request for service), claiming that a neighbor is operating a short term rental home (STRH) or bed and breakfast illegally. If the enforcement department receives an RFS, they will then investigate. 

This involves a quick look online to see if they can find the listing posted on sites such as VRBO and Airbnb. If they find anything or talk to neighbors and collect evidence, then they may drop by the property. If there’s no direct evidence, the RFS doesn’t go anywhere and they will drop the investigation.

Operating Throughout the Process

The vacation rental owner operates illegally while they are trying to get their permit approved. This is extremely risky as the planning commission will be looking into activity on the property, and many people have lost their opportunity to apply for a STRH because they were caught. 

However, if they’re caught they can still apply for a bed and breakfast permit, but then they must live on site.

In addition, there are some upcoming changes within the County of Maui that may disrupt the vacation rental landscape. 

Law Requiring Homeownership for Five Years

There is currently a bill in Maui that may further restrict potential vacation rental owners from receiving a STRH permit. The bill states that the individual would have to own the property for five years before even applying for the permit.

Law Against an Ohana as a STRH

What defines an ‘ohana’ is if it has a second kitchen, and the lot that the dwellings are on must be at least 7500 square feet. Many people in Maui own homes that have either attached or detached ohanas. Unfortunately, they are trying to make renting out an ohana as a vacation rental illegal. 

The good news is that you can actually be grandfathered in if you already have a STRH permit for your ohana, so now is the time to get a permit before it’s too late!

Bed and Breakfast owner Tom Croly is pushing hard against these bills, as research actually indicates there aren’t as many vacation rentals as most people think. Less than 1.5% of homes sold in Maui have even applied for a permit. Of course, there are illegal rental out there, but there aren’t nearly as many rentals as it seems.

Now is the time to apply for a STRH permit or a bed and breakfast permit, because you never know what changes are coming to Maui in the next several years. 

It is a major investment in both time and money, but the dream of Maui living is worth it in the end.

Nothing great comes easy, but the pristine beaches in Wailea, the lush rainforests in Hana, and the spectacular views upcountry are waiting for you. Aloha, and see you in Maui soon!

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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