Big Island

Big Island Short Term Vacation Registration Packet Available Now

The County of Hawaii has finally uploaded the packet to register your Big Island Short Term Vacation Rental (STVR) and it was worth the wait. The instructions and materials included in the PDF help you decide whether you need to:

  • Register (only) your STVR property since it is located in a permitted zoning district;
  • Register your STVR plus apply for a non-conforming use certificate (NUC) since has been operating previously as an STVR, is located in an unpermitted zoning district but is NOT a post-1976 parcel designated as agricultural by the state; ) OR
  • Donʻt bother as you do not qualify under either of the above and therefore will not be granted approval to operate as an STVR.

Here is the link to the County of Hawaii Short Term Vacation Rental Application.

Summary of registration procedures and requirements in table form (County of Hawaii)

STVR Application for ALL Rentals – 10 Items

Resort zoned properties are eligible for registration as short term vacation rentals, and offer amenities like proximity to golf courses and beaches. This view is from Halii Kai 11A (MLS 619323).

The forms on the County website include fillable versions of the application itself and of an “affidavit of compliance” that must be signed by the owner and notarized to attest that the owner understands and accepts the new rules. Most of the other items are supporting documents that need to be created or collected from other sources. The County has helpfully provided links or suggestions for acceptable sources of information.

For example, you need to show that you have tax licenses for general excise and transient accommodations taxes; have paid property taxes, and that the property being offered for rent has all necessary permits with final approvals from the County Building Department.

You will need to create a site map and show a floor plan with interior dimensions of rooms being rented. If you have your building plans, or can get a copy from the Building Department, it will be easy enough to print on 11″ X 17″ paper. If not, get out your ruler and tape measure! Of course, if you are in a condo complex, those site plans and floor plans are readily available.

Garden view resort condo Halii Kai 21A has never been rented, but a new owner could apply for the STVR registration. New vacation rentals fill out the same forms, but may not begin renting until the application is approved. 

Neighbor Notification for Nonconforming Use Certificate Application

The only difference if you are trying to get your vacation rental in an unpermitted zoning to be “grandfathered in” is that you will have an additional hurdle. Technically there are three items, but they are all related to the act of notifying neighbors within a 300ʻ radius of your property boundaries.

Fortunately, the County has provided step by step instructions for how to create the list of affected properties, and a template for a letter that can be sent to comply with the requirements for two notices.

I just tried it “as if” I was going to apply for a NUC. First, you go to the Hawaii County Property Tax website. 

When you get to the site, you will “Search Records,” and the most important thing is to select the top option to go to the New Web Access Portal rather than entering your search info on this page:

Then you will be taken to a screen to enter your property address. The cool-tricky part comes next. You go to map view using the icon at the top, then using the Spatial Selection Tool, ask for it to show a buffer zone of 300ʻ around your address. E voila! Here are the neighbors you need to notify:

County Website 300 foot radius example

The properties within the green circle are within 300ʻ of any boundary of the selected address and would need to be notified under the process for obtaining a non-conforming use certificate. The ownersʻ names and addresses appear in a column on the right of this map.

A word of free advice, for what itʻs worth. Now that the County registration forms are available, and the clock is ticking on non-conforming rental properties, in my opinion any buyer looking for a Big Island vacation rental home — or in escrow on one — should be concerned with whether buyer or seller is going to apply. If buyer will be applying after closing, consider asking for necessary documents as part of the purchase contract as it might be difficult to obtain from seller once closing takes place.

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Julie Keller

April 29, 2019

Thank you for writing these informative blogs Beth!

Jane F

July 10, 2019

I appreciate your help getting through all this information. This is a lot of paperwork! The $1 fee for a tax clearance certificate (which I will need to mail in) about sent me over the edge…. But thank you for your cheerful breakdown of the information. It is helpful.

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