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Big News for Accessory Ohana Dwellings on Maui

By diane-bercik | January 29, 2019 | For Buyers, For Sellers, Maui Living

Maui County recently relaxed restrictions on accessory dwellings, more commonly referred to as “ohanas”, to allow one unit on any lot under 7,500 square feet, and up to two units on any lot 7,500 square feet and over. Ohanas are separate living quarters and can be either attached to or detached from the main structure on the same property. Previously, homeowners were restricted to just one ohana for lots over 7,500 square feet. Lots under 7,500 square feet were not permitted to have an ohana at all – though you will find many properties with non-conforming ohanas across the island!

The change was initiated to help ease the undersupply of long-term rental housing available for Maui residents. It also helps homeowners to offset the high cost of ownership with some extra rental income and allows those with existing non-comforming ohanas to bring their properties up to code.

There are some caveats of course. Properties:

  1. must be zoned to allow ohanas (agricultural districts do not allow for accessory dwellings; for example)
  2. cannot be used as a bed and breakfast, short-term rental or transient vacation rental (remember the goal here is really to create more long-term housing for Maui residents);
  3. must be free of any neighborhood restrictions set by a Homeowners Association; and
  4. should still be properly permitted and follow other general building and zoning standards such as parking, water systems and setbacks.

There are also square footage limitations to consider which you are outlined in the chart below. In addition to the change in number of units, the county also increased the allowable square footage per ohana and its related outdoor space. Keep in mind this allowable square footage is per unit rather than the total area allowed between multiple units (i.e. if your 8,000 square foot property allows for two ohanas at 600 square feet, you can’t have one that is 200 square feet and another that is 1,000 square feet).

This is big news for Maui homeowners, long-term renters and those wanting to invest in Maui real estate!  Please reach out to us if you would like more information on how this news could impact your purchase or sale of a property on Maui.

A more detailed overview provided by The Realtors Association of Maui’s Government Affairs Committee can be found here. The specific Maui County Code ordinance can be found here.