Maui vacation rental condos

What You Should Know When Booking A Maui Vacation Rental

Booking Maui vacation rentals can be a great alternative to busy, high-priced resorts. Some visitors gravitate towards vacation rentals because many offer full kitchens, washer/dryers, and a homey atmosphere that hotels often lack. But Maui has a long, sensitive history with vacation rentals, particularly those operating without permits.

In early 2022, Airbnb removed 1,300 unpermitted Maui vacation rentals from its site. And while visitors with stays planned were eventually refunded, many were left without accommodation days before their trip, underscoring the importance of booking a legal rental. 

So, how can you avoid this?  

Booking Maui Vacation Rentals Locked Out

Know which accommodations require permits.


Some transient vacation rentals on Maui require special permits to operate. Maui County defines transient vacation rental as accommodation rented for less than 180 days.  


  • Condos: Condos in South and West Maui don’t typically require a short-term rental permit because they are located in hotel or apartment zones— areas designated for visitor accommodations. Resort-style condos and villas like Honua Kai and Hoʻolei at the Grand Wailea fall under hotel zones, while beachfront condos like Maui Sunset would be considered apartment zones. If the condo is located in a hotel or apartment zone, the space is free to let out for short-term stays— so long as the owners pay state GE tax and a transient accommodation tax.  


  • Vacation Home Rental: Entire homes designated for Maui vacation rentals almost always require a permit. Vacation home rentals are defined as single-family homes that the host/owner does not occupy and are rented for less than 180 days.


  • Bed and breakfasts: Bed and breakfasts are properties that offer short-term rental of rooms— or the entire dwelling— where the owner lives on site. Like single-family homes, bed and breakfasts in residential, rural, or agricultural zones require county permits.


Booking Maui Vacation Rentals Examples


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Know how to look for permit numbers.


  • Short-term rentals in Hawaii must display their permit numbers on their listing and rental sites like Airbnb or risk being removed from the platform. Most county permit numbers look something like this: #BBKM2022/0001, or a 12-digit number.


  • You’ll see transient accommodation and GE tax numbers displayed in listings for rentals that don’t require special permits.  


  • If the permit number isn’t displayed, try reaching out to the owner to see if they can provide you with one. Or, you can check out this list compiled by Maui County of licensed vacation homes, bed and breakfasts, and condos. It might be an illegal rental if the owner can’t provide you with a permit number.  


  • All rentals on Maui Accommodations are fully licensed, saving you the trouble of hunting down permit numbers!


Booking Maui Vacation Rentals Paperwork


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Why is only booking a licensed rental important?


Booking a permitted rental ensures that your stay is safe and seamless. It also doesn’t further Maui’s ongoing housing crisis.   


As Maui continues to root out illegal vacation rentals, Airbnb can remove unpermitted listings at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, some visitors have had the rug pulled out from under them when the county shut down their rental weeks before their vacation. That’s not the way anyone wants to start a holiday.  


What’s more, Maui is in the throes of a significant housing crisis, and the proliferation of unpermitted rentals deepens the problem. A 2018 report states that one in seven homes on Maui are vacation rentals. It was found that out-of-state buyers account for 52% of home sales, and only 16.7% of those buyers choose to rent to residents only. 


Maui County has clamped down hard on illegal vacation rentals in the last four years. The county has not only weeded out thousands of unpermitted rentals but also put more stringent permitting rules in place. For instance, to even be considered for a vacation home rental permit, you must have owned the home for at least five years. And while it’s become tougher to convert homes to vacation rentals, there are still 16,000 units on Maui that are eligible to operate as short-term rentals without a permit.


Booking Maui Vacation Rentals Cracking Down


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With Maui Accommodations, you won’t have to worry about sifting through listings to find permit numbers.


All of our listings are fully licensed, legal, and awesome properties! We are one of the best island resources for owner-direct bookings— saving you money by avoiding commissions and pesky fees on third-party sites.


Booking Maui Vacation Rentals Arrival


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  • Looking for great places to stay on Maui? You’ll save by BOOKING DIRECTLY with the owners/managers of these accommodations.
  • Looking for Maui deals? Sign up here for our free monthly Maui Deals & Steals enewsletter with the latest book-direct deals from our advertisers.  


Happy Travels!

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