Maui Landlords are Nuts

Updated: Jul 26

Things I expected when I started working/living part-time in Maui:

1. Maui is more expensive than Oahu, and

2. The lifestyle and pace of living is slower.

What I didn’t expect: Maui landlords are nuts. Greedy and entitled.

I am sure that there are great landlords on Maui. A generalized statement does not include everyone. But my experience of Maui landlords leave me with this impression. The things that Maui landlords request are both illegal and predatory.

  • Limited options, high rent. Supply/demand is definitely a problem leading to limited options here. LL’s really charge whatever they want and renters are at their mercy. Not unusual to see a furnished 1Br apartment asking rent to be $2,600-$3,000/month (Kihei). The median household income in Kihei is $78k. Using a 30-40% rent:income ratio to determine housing affordability, a household making $78k can afford $2,600/month in rent. That can maybe get you an unfurnished 1Br or 2Br if you are really, really lucky.

  • Leases for 6-8 months ONLY. With furnished homes in Maui, most are on short 6-8 month leases as they tend to be 2nd homes. And the homeowner wants to use the homes for 4-6 months out of the year (usually snowbirds/or for the annual holiday retreats). Therefore, you MUST move out when they want to take up their part time residence again. Maybe that works out for the Mainland remote workers that all camped out in Hawaii during the pandemic, temporarily. But for others, having to move every 8 months is extremely stressful.

  • Illegal enforcing a low number of occupants in their rentals. By federal housing standards, it is illegal by law to enforce an unrealistic “max” number of occupants. That can be a form of discrimination against familial status. I’ve seen Maui LL’s on ads try to cap the number of occupants to n-1. n , being the number of bedrooms.

  • Ex. Only requesting max 2 occupants in a 3Br apartment, or single occupancy for a 2Br. Maui LL’s will have provisions which the extra bedroom “is more suited to be an office or spare room, for someone who works outside of the home.” Which is ridiculous. Oh, that’s another thing too. Because many of these smaller 1Br/2Br apartments tend to be Ohana units (like ADU’s), many times on the same property as the main home, which the LL lives in, the LL’s are very particular about remote workers. Some have the preference that their tenants are not home all the time and must work a job outside the home (no WFH).

  • Illegally requesting that 6-12 months’ worth of rent be paid upfront. I get it, tenants skip on rent. They promise to pay, but they don’t. But isn’t that a problem that can be mitigated through proper tenant screening? Section 4(b) of the Hawaii Residential Landlord-Tenant code states that “the beginning of the rental agreement, the landlord may receive the money for the first month’s rent and a security deposit not in excess of one month’s rent.” I personally would not want to accept 6-12 month’s rent upfront for liability reasons. If for any reason, the tenancy does not work out well for both the renter or the LL, the tenant should be released from the lease, as a landlord-tenant relationship should be a mutually-beneficial one. By paying a lump sum of rent upfront, the tenant is also at the mercy of the LL. They have limited recourse should the LL deny their LL obligations such as doing necessary repairs. If you can afford 6-12 month’s rent upfront as a tenant, I would strongly recommend you use it as a down payment for your own home so you don’t have to deal with the LL’s wacko bullshit and entitlement.

  • Requesting free repairs and other odd duties. Maui LL are nuts. In order to be a model prospective tenant, not only do you have to pay your $2,500/month rent on time, pay 6-12 month’s rent upfront, be a single occupant, no parties, no drugs, no alcohol, no smoking, no guests, limited to 1 free load of laundry per week etc. etc, but they also have the balls to request free repairs, pet-sit, landscaping, yard work, etc. in order for the renter to have a “top” shot at being considered to live in their rental. Give me a break. This type of request by Maui LL’s is what gives them a bad name. Tenants have the right to reimbursement for the repair if something breaks at no fault of the tenant. Wear and tear is normal on a rental, and is the cost of doing business.

  • LL’s that treat their rental as a personal Airbnb for their visiting family and friends, even when someone is residing in the unit. This was the last straw I had with my current Maui LL. Having the audacity to ask to “rent” back the property to herself for $150/night for a week while her sister is in town, visiting. Btw, $150/night is below the market rate for Maui hotel rooms, so not only do I have to deal with the inconvenience of letting a stranger stay in what is supposed to be my “home” - I wouldn’t even be able to rent another place to stay in the meantime for the compensation she was offering. Why would you even impose on your tenant like this?

After having several “Karen” LL’s here are my takeaways:

  • If you have a low-maintenance tenant that always pays rent on time, and hardly ever bothers you with anything, then you should leave them alone. Tenants hate intrusive LL’s

  • Do not impose on your tenants by asking to “rent” back their apartment for a visiting family member. If you as the LL want the flexibility to let your friends/family stay in your ADU at any time they visit, then you should let it sit empty so it would always be available for them. It is NOT reasonable to ask your tenant to “rent” back what is supposed to be THEIR space.

  • If you are a renter looking for privacy, look for detached Ohana units or condo apartments.

  • LL’s onsite can be a hit or miss - they are either sweet and great, or true micromanagers. My current LL called me at 7pm one time because she thought I was burning a candle (which is prohibited per the lease). I was NOT lighting a candle.

  • If you have the financials, I would strongly encourage you to own your own home for the sole advantage of not dealing with these nutso LL’s.

  • If you are renting and find a LL that appears to be sane, or a unit managed through a property management company and is legitimate business, I would recommend you to jump at the opening! In a state where housing supply is short - like Hawaii - the better listings will go FAST.

What are some of your crazy landlord stories?