Know Your Landlord

Pictured home: 1174 Ainalako Rd. Hilo, HI 96720

As we await final quarter 2 numbers, talk about a rapid shift in the market are rampant. Such talk focuses around the rising interest rates and the belief that run-away inflation will cause a market crash. Here’s what I know.

We still have a lot of demand for our East Hawai`i product. Inventory is still constrained with no relief in sight. Price reductions and properties coming back on the market have increased most likely part of a knee jerk reaction to the press manipulating facts to create a scare. It’s good to remember that today’s rates are what were traditionally considered normal. It’s tough to think of paying over 6% coming off 2.5% rates but nonetheless, supply and demand should keep things balanced for a while.

Renter Scam

Now, a quick reminder about landlords. When it comes to legitimate long-term rentals, check our MLS ( Many rentals are still listed in the newspaper but it seems social media is where many people begin their search for new digs these days. While most postings are fine, unfortunately, (especially) Craigslist has often become the conduit for a scammer’s profit center. It’s fairly common for REALTORS® to receive calls from prospective tenants asking if our for-sale listings are really for rent.

With just a few clicks, imposter landlords can pull information and photos from our listings and repost them as rentals. While I thought everyone was up-to-speed on this potential problem, my friends on the ocean in HPP wrote to inform me about the issue when they recently saw their home for rent on Craigslist with my 10-year-old professional photos!

Besides the use of professional photos, here are a few other red flags that might help weed out real scammers:

  • Below market rent offers the first hint that the ad is probably bogus. As negotiations progress, a request for wired funds is, of course, most telling.
  • It’s good to know that Hawai`i State law requires every landlord to have an on-island representative, so logically there should be someone locally who can collect rent or vouch for owner authenticity.
  • If there are real doubts, check ownership with a REALTOR® or the tax office. Then ask for a positive ID.
  • More market madness

Unfortunately, Craigslist is not the only place tenants run into trouble. We keep hearing talk of an eventual uptick in foreclosures. An unexpected consequence of foreclosures is the potential impact on tenants. While there are rules in place to protect tenants with a valid lease, there is no protection for a tenant who moves in as a result of a scam. Or even for a tenant who takes occupancy from an owner, who may still be listed as the legal owner, but has no right to rent the property because of an on-going foreclosure. Tenants have no way of knowing if an owner is being foreclosed with no legal right to lease the property.

Seek Professional Help

Of course, home ownership is the best way to avoid tenant related issues, but for those who must continue renting, it’s best to seek out local owners with a long history of ownership. Working with a reputable, licensed property manager is a great way for tenants to avoid problems with bogus owners or foreclosure evictions. So, if you are in the market for new digs, take time to dig deeper. Learn as much about your landlord or rental agent as they know about you!

About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

Comments (1) Show CommentsHide Comments (Remember)

Cool. Add your comment...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private, this form is secure and we never spam you.

Dennis Roberts

June 30, 2022

Small condo or town house please. Low Monthly fee too. Mahlo

More Articles from Hawaii Life