Why Are There So Few Places to Live On Maui?


Some friends recently moved to Maui, and commented on how hard it was to find a place to live. They asked, “Why are there so few long-term rentals on Maui?”

The answer is simple and complicated at the same time. A typical landlord can pull in much more per month renting a condo unit out by the week in a rental pool, than by the month. Of course, he/she has to keep it rented.

If you are the condo owner, you probably want to use the condo a month or so in the year– or let the kids and grandkids use it. You can’t kick a long – term tenant out, but you can block out a month for yourself– which means it’s a vacation-rental only.

So now you, the landlord, have yourself a place to vacation on Maui, plus it’s pulling in money the rest of the year. Pretty much a win – win, wouldn’t you say?

Yes, for everyone except the locals, who are pulling their hair out trying to find a decent rental for a decent price. And be warned, what is out there for rent is rarely in pristine shape. One of the first places I rented on Maui was a condo in Honokowai. It was built in the early 70’s and had dirty, worn Pepto-Bismol pink carpeting throughout. Plus a pink toilet, a pink sink… just lovely. (Not). Nothing had been replaced or upgraded.

When I moved in, the new owner/landlord hadn’t even had it cleaned after taking it out of the rental pool. When I asked him to clean it, he acted shocked, SHOCKED! that he wasn’t going to get to be a slum-lord with no out-of-pocket expenses. And then he found the two lowest priced local girls to come in and do the job, because I’d never seen two people move so slowly and get less done in that amount of time.

I cleaned the whole thing over again, which was fruitless, because there were holes so big in the “natural” rock walls that the cockroaches had a freeway going from the outside in. And red dirt blows right through jalousie windows, even when they are closed.

For this, I was paying an exhorbitant price. And this was the beginning of my real education on Maui: the landlord mostly wins.

Now that I’m a landlord, I vow never to be that way. And I don’t vacation-rental it. I save it for a local, who is tired of the rental war.

I was once that person, you see.

A hui hou! Mahalo For reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

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