Friday, April 17, 2015

Ohanas and Other Rental Experiences

Ohana means family in Hawaiian. Families in Hawaii are closer and tighter than in many other parts of the country. Ohana is also a real estate term. It’s the name for a smaller dwelling next to a main house that can be used to house family, like parents or older children, to keep them nearby. Or to keep a close eye on them, but not have them in the same house!

Many residential lots are zoned for a main house and an ohana. Nowadays, ohanas are not just for relatives. Very often, a landowner will rent out the ohana to any prospective tenant, or will live in the ohana and rent out the main house. Some landowners will buy raw land, build the ohana first and live in it while building the main house.

Ohanas often help pay for the el whopper humongo mortgages that are all too common on Maui. 

Some people who buy houses on Maui expect the income from their tenant(s) to pay for their entire mortgage. Hawaii has no rent control, so prices go up and down based on the real estate market. 

When real estate prices rise, more people sell their homes, forcing tenants to move. I’ve heard that about 50% of Maui’s population rents, as opposed to owns.

Currently, Maui is experiencing a surge in rental prices, which is a problem for many residents.

Maui has other challenges for renters:
Ø  Having to move every couple of years because the rent keeps going up or the property has been sold.
Ø  Having intrusive landlords who constantly show the property to prospective buyers.
Ø  Having psycho landlords who are worried about high electricity costs or water usage and make tenants’ lives miserable. One landlord even counted the number of shoes or slippers on the tenant’s door mat to try to find out if he was having friends over, and therefore using up electricity.
Ø  If you have a pet, especially a dog, it can take forever to find a place to rent. Even if you have character references, a high credit score, and a solid job, if you have a dog, you’re at the bottom of the rental pool. Maybe it’s because some people with dogs have given everyone else with dogs a bad name. Since construction and repair costs are so much more in Hawaii, landlords are averse to potential damage. 

Recent Craigslist ad on renting on Maui.

On the other hand, renters have some laws to protect them:
Ø  They can stay on a property for it seems like, another month, without paying rent (it takes a while to evict them).
Ø  Even after a renter leaves, the landlord cannot simply dispose of the tenant’s property. At the bare minimum, the landlord must try to contact the tenant through all means possible, then wait at least 15 days. Our property manager waited at least a month or two before disposing of our neighbor’s stuff. This person also left 15 cats so I spent days rounding up cats and doing free cat ads on craigslist.

Ø  A landlord cannot simply enter a tenant’s house without warning, at least 2 days notice, even if something illegal is suspected.

By the way, if you're reading this, please make a wish for my friend D.E. who is looking for an affordable ohana to rent. 

Related post: Housing on Maui Can Make You Cry

Here's a shortcut to the archives for the A to Z Challenge and other blog posts.

The theme of this year’s A to Z Challenge is Living on Maui: A Beginner’s Survival Guide. While I can’t include everything in only 26 short blog posts, this is my foolish attempt.

If you are participating in the A to Z Challenge, please use either Disqus or Facebook to comment below. Please include your link so that I can visit you back, but it might be as late as May!


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