We were not quite certain how COVID-19 was going to affect the rental market on Maui. Now that we are months into it, there are a lot of people on the move. We have some tips for home seekers in this surprisingly active rental market, as well as reminders for landlords.

Why are people moving?

Nobody realized how long COVID-19 was going to be with us. The pandemic had an immediate effect on tourism, but then it just kept going and going. Maui had a staggering 21.3 unemployment rate as of July, 2020.  Some people are moving to downsize and save money, often because they can no longer afford where they were living. They are either looking for less expensive places on Maui, or are leaving the island.

On the mainland, folks are leaving urban areas for less populated areas with less COVID-19. Maui may be a long way to travel, but many with a connection to the island are coming for the same reason. Family members are flocking home. College students are returning to take in a gap year. People with property here may forgo spending the summer elsewhere and return home, displacing tenants. Others who already planned on moving to Maui are following through on plans, especially if they already have employment lined up. These are just a few of the reasons people are actively moving.

Tips on Renting When You are Unemployed

Lower your expenses. This may sound obvious, but people with less income need to adjust their expectations for housing, at least temporarily. You may need to rent a smaller, more affordable place.

Check out rent relief programs:

Department of Hawaiian Homelands eligible tenant relief

Hawaii Emergency Laulima Partnership (H.E.L.P.) program

MEO Rental Assistance program

Maui United Way A Hui Hou Fund for rental assistance

More rental, food and utility assistance

Consider a shared home. You might land a great spot in a house or condo, where the lease is under someone else’s name. This might be easier to qualify for than leasing a place on your own. Just make sure the person you are renting from has permission from the landlord to sublease or rent a room.

Negotiate with your current landlord. Your landlord may be willing to make a temporary rent reduction due to a COVID-19 hardship, or defer a portion of rent owed. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Tips for All Potential Tenants

Consider Making a Rental Resume. When you find a great place in a competitive market, you want to act fast. Gathering all of your info in one place ahead of time will enable you to act promptly when filling out applications.


  • Your complete contact information including current and past address;
  • Contact information for your current and previous landlord and how much you paid in rent;
  • Employment information and contact info;
  • Details on vehicles you will have on the property;
  • Info on pets including Type, breed, gender, weight, whether current on shots and flea/tick control.

Be prepared to share financial information. Potential landlords want to know you have the financial resources to pay rent and other living expenses in order to be a stable, long-term tenant. Calculate your gross income from all sources you would like to have considered. If self-employed, gather bank statements, tax documents or other business filings showing income.

Be among the first to respond. If landlords are receiving a lot of inquiries, they usually will schedule applicants on a first come first served basis (there may some qualifications when applying). Logically, the first groups of people who view a unit have an advantage.

Be polite, and be on time. During these stressful times, it’s important to leave any frustration at the door, avoid over explaining and act professionally. Being on time shows a landlord you are a responsible person, so Google the address ahead of time and allow a few extra minutes to make sure you arrive on schedule for your appointment.

Reminders for Landlords

Property owners, or those acting in the capacity of landlord or property manager, should be well-versed on Hawaii landlord-tenant law. If not, consider hiring a professional property manager. Hawaii law makes it illegal for a landlord to discriminate against a tenant on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, disability, age, familial status, marital status, religion, or HIV status. Although there are some considerations based on the size of a unit, landlords cannot refuse to rent to families with children or charge them a large deposit. View this brief on housing discrimination HERE.

Special COVID-19 provision. Governor Ige recently extended rental protection for tenants against eviction. This program is currently active through the end of September. Tenants are still responsible for rental amounts owned, but cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent during this time period.

Mortgage help for homeowners impacted by the Coronavirus. – Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks are taking steps to help those impacted by Coronavirus. Find out more HERE.

Owners with rentals. If you have a rental unit, and need help finding tenants, contact us. Rentals are in demand right now, and our professional, licensed team can help. Our touch-less system means applicants can apply online and owners can access their account through a secure web portal.