With more than 16,000 vacation rental units, Maui is one of the top spots for rentals in the United States.

What do you need to know about rules and regulations if you’re considering a rental in what locals describe as Maui nō ka ʻoi (“Maui is the best”)?

There are two kinds of vacation rental properties in the County of Maui (which includes the populated islands of Maui, Moloka’i and Lana’i):

  • “Transient Vacation Rentals”, or TVRs, which are limited to approved zones: resort areas and business districts.
  • “Short-Term Rental Homes”, or STRHs, are rentals in residential areas — and weren’t considered legal until May 2012.

Buying a rental in a resort area

Vacation rentals in resort areas are considered TVRs, described by the County as “rental of a housing unit for less than 180 days.”

With so many units, there’s no question that this is a fairly standard type of property ownership. You can learn more from the County of Maui website.

When doing your research, you may find some confusion between TVRs and short-term rental homes; this is because there were just a small number of TVRs legally permitted in residential areas.

As explained below, this changed last year — but it did not impact the thousands of TVRs located in commercial zones.

Buying in a residential area

Within the last decade, there were an estimated 1,000-2,000 illegal vacation rentals operating in residential areas throughout Maui.

Owners and the County seemed to have an unspoken peace, with enforcement generally coming only with complaints. However, in 2007, the mayor started cracking down on these units, upsetting many owners who’d spent years flying under the radar.

Last spring, the County passed new legislation that will allow up to 400 STRHs. The legislation says that:

  • Permits will be granted through consultation with neighbors.
  • If you or a direct family member intend to act as property manager, you need to have a residence or office within 30 driving miles and be able to be at the rental property, if needed, within an hour. If you live outside that area, you’ll need to hire a professional property manager who can meet these requirements.
  • On Lana’i or Maui, a rental can have no more than six rooms and no more than three on Molokai.
  • The number of guests in a rental is capped at double the number of bedrooms.

For a full description, visit the STRH application website.

  • Note: Be sure to verify rules and regulations for your city or consult a lawyer before making any decisions about your short-term rental.

Own a vacation rental in Maui and have some need-to-know advice to pass along?

The information above is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. If you need legal advice, you should consult a licensed attorney in your area.

photo credit: Jeff Daggett