New law allows homeowners to build, rent second home on property


The city took another step toward easing Hawaii’s affordable housing crisis Monday.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed a bill into law that lets homeowners build and rent out a second home on their property.

Read Bill 20 in its entirety here.

With the median Honolulu home priced at around $700,000 and Honolulu’s growing homeless population, something needs to be done to give people an affordable housing option.

The law, however, comes with restrictions. “It could be attached or detached. It could be the garage. But small kine, not large, where it becomes unaffordable,” Caldwell said.

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) differ from ohana dwellings. You don’t have to be family to live there.

Caldwell says there are about 20,000 lots in Honolulu zoned for ADUs and he thinks about a quarter of those owners will apply for a permit.

“This ordinance is the most significant affordable housing ordinance the city’s adopted in years,” said Honolulu City Councilman Ron Menor.

“This is the beginning of the path towards creating more of the housing we’ll need on this island,” said Brian Matson, assistant state homeless coordinator, Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Supporters also say it’ll help generate income for the homeowners.

“I would like to keep my dad home with me. That’s why I’m doing it. You forget about the hidden homeless. There’s many hidden homeless members in our community,” said ADU applicant Kahaunani Mahoe-Theone.

ADUs can be 400 to 800 square feet, attached or detached from the main home, and only one can be built per lot.

Rental agreements cannot be shorter than six months.

Click here for a list of frequently asked questions.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell demonstrates how an ADU could fit on a property.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell demonstrates different ways an ADU could fit on a property.

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