The Fourth of July edition of the Maui News featured an article about the county’s plan to crack down on illegal vacation rentals. County legislation has long dictated that vacation rentals are to be confined to areas with hotel and resort zoning unless a property has a variance or permit. However, previous administrations have not actively enforced this policy. While not openly condoning illegal rentals, county councils and former mayors did not instruct zoning enforcement offers to investigate short term rentals unless there was a complaint regarding a specific property. There will now be five inspectors carrying out the active enforcement policy. The County has created a prioritized list for enforcement. Those that have been the most brazen in their abuse of the law will be targeted first. Those that have applied for permits, but have only done so since February of this year will be next in line for enforcement. Those that applied for permits prior to February of this year, but have yet to receive permits will be third on the list for enforcement. The North Shore and Upcountry areas are likely to be targeted for enforcement first. By law zoning violators will need to be given adequate warning prior to being issued a violation. Violations will include an order to cease and desist and fines. Fines will be based in part on the cooperation of violators.
While the true impact of this change in enforcement is unknown, it will be interesting to see how this will impact the North Shore and Upcountry Real Estate market. Some homeowners in the area are dependent upon the income from vacation rentals to make mortgage payments. We may see some of these individuals put in a position where they will need to sell their home. This will depend in part on how quickly the planning department is able to formulate a new vacation rental bill. This bill would limit the number of vacation rental units allowed in neighborhoods while also putting in measure to permit stand alone vacation rental units outside hotel zones. We will continue to monitor issues related to the vacation rental enforcement and its impact on the local real estate market on the Maui Real Estate Blog.