Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: Are There Vacation Rental Permit Exemptions?

March 6, 2016, 12:02 PM HST
* Updated March 6, 10:01 AM
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File photo.

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Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his office staff. Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email at [email protected], call 270-7855 or send them by mail to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

Aloha Mayor Arakawa,

Q: Just a question. Is anyone “grandfathered in” from having to get a vacation rental permit if the short-term has been in existence since 1999 or 2000? With paying TAT and GE taxes since then? I tried to look this up first but was not successful. Would appreciate it if you can answer this question.

A: According to the Maui County Planning Department, the laws applying to vacation rentals in different zoning districts changed in 1981, 1989 and 1991, with the 1991 changes having the broadest applicability.

In general, if the vacation rental use was established before 1991, and has been in continuous use since then without an interruption of 12 months or more, it would be considered grandfathered. If the use was interrupted by 12 months or more, though, it would no longer be grandfathered.


Hawai‘i Revised Statutes 19.500.110.C.2: “Any nonconforming use that is discontinued for 12 consecutive months shall not be resumed.”


For the Planning Department to determine whether a vacation rental use is grandfathered, they will ask for any evidence that can be produced—GET and TAT tax reconciliations are a great indicator. They’ve also seen guest books, advertisements, correspondence—staff will look at any documentation that can be provided to see if the use was continuous.


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