You’ve Moved to Honolulu, Now What? How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Renting

If you’re looking to rent a home in the Honolulu Metro, Downtown, Kakaako, or Waikiki Areas, you know that it is just as competitive as buying a home. This page will assist you in your rental search. Many people ask if I can help them find rentals on Oahu. It’s within my ability, but I have a full-time career in helping people purchase or sell properties on Oahu.  

However, I can guide you through the easiest and best process of moving to or on the island. I do this only to inform people, so that they know what they need to know in order to search, compete, and know the process in regards to rental property.

View from Tantalus and Makiki towards Diamond Head and Honolulu.  Honolulu is known for it's beautiful rainbows and Diamond Head.

View from Tantalus and Makiki towards Diamond Head and Honolulu. Honolulu is known for its beautiful rainbows, and Diamond Head. This is what people expect when they move to Honolulu. It is not a right, but a wonderful privilege.

Where Should You Start?

The easiest and most comprehensive place to start is Craigslist (over 95% of rentals can be found here). Craigslist gets everything from the for-rent-by-owners (owner finding their own tenant), real estate property managers, to the crazy scammers. Best way to maneuver through the scams, is if they leave a phone number, or if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is a scam.

That leaves the for-rent-by-owners and property managers, your best route to finding a place to rent historically. You may be worried about missing the daily updates on Craigslist for your first choice property with so much competition, or you may already be on Craigslist several times a day refreshing your screen trying to view and find new rental posts.

If you’d like to save yourself some time and automate the process for yourself in real time updates, I’d recommend setting up Craigslist RSS feeds via feedly – this invaluable tool will automatically notify you via email of new matches based on your search criteria (you can also download an app like CraigsPro to your smartphone, which does the same thing).

If you’re trying to get an idea where all the properties are on Craigslist that you’re searching for, I recommend Housing Maps, a group of Craigslist properties for rent laid out on a user friendly Google map.

I’m Always Happy to Help

That being said, if you’re really having a rough time finding a place, or you’re looking for a home/condominium to rent between $1,000 to $3,000 a month, I may be able to help in 2 ways:

1. The first is via my extensive network of relationships with my colleagues, realtors and property managers, along with my 4,200 Facebook friends who are always inquiring about rental properties like yourself, or looking for a venue to post their latest rentals. I occasionally hear of courtesy rentals via these two networks as well.

2. The second way I can help you find a rental is via the MLS, these I will set up to have it automatically email you when a rental listing becomes available. Keep in mind, most of these, if not all, will also be available on Craigslist.

I have assisted clients in finding everything from a studio apartment in Honolulu renting for $750 a month to luxury homes in Kahala for nearly $9,000 a month. Drop me a line if you think I may be able to help. Many people ask me if this is what I do for a living, I do not. 

Keep in mind, I won’t be as responsive as my first priority is always to my clients who need my help to find or sell a property. I don’t want anyone to think that they are not important to me, because I believe finding a home is very important whether buying or renting, but I am only one person, and I receive about 5 requests a week to assist people in finding rentals, for which I do not take compensation for, even when offered.

Some Things to Keep in Mind Before You Sign Your Lease

1. Read the language. Before signing you lease with your new landlord, it’s extremely important for you to read and/or have your attorney read the language. Some terms of your agreement you may want to focus on are:

  • The length of the lease
  • What happens after the lease expires (are you month-to-month)
  • Your rights per the Landlord – Tenant Code
  • How you will get your security deposit back
  • Are you are allowed to paint/decorate/repair/change the look of the unit or home?

These are some of the items that will need to be verified before I would feel comfortable renting from someone.

2. Know who you will be working with. You will also want to Google your landlord, the address and owner of property, and whether it is directly with the owner, or a property management company, to see who you will be working with. Some property managers have extremely bad reviews on Yelp, or someone may have had a bad experience with a landlord that is documented online.  

3. Know who owns the property. You will also most definitely want to check the ownership of the house or condo. Recently, a client of mine found out the rental she and her husband were renting was not owned by their “landlord,” it was subleased to them and the person was not paying the actual landlord with the money they had been paying him. They had to vacate immediately. There are a lot of scams out there, and you want to make sure to take the extra precautions before you step into a world of hurt.

4. Make a “current condition” checklist. Before you sign your lease, it is also extremely important that you AND your landlord complete some type of “Move In, Move Out” form. This extensive checklist itemizes all the rooms, appliances, things that are nailed into your home, and is designed to list the current condition, so you can avoid any issues when it comes time to get your security deposit back. I recommend doing this in person with your landlord, then you will know exactly who you’re dealing with.  

5. Know what needs repair. It’s in your best interest, as a tenant, to go through the home and document all the things that may be a broken, worn, or anything the landlord could hold against you for the condition of the home (holes in the wall, dryer not heating, etc). This prevents the landlord from keeping or holding a portion of your security deposit back when you move out. You may want to shoot a quick video for your personal file of the empty home’s condition before you move in as potential proof down the road. Take lot’s of pictures as well.

Considering Buying?

I am an expert in the Honolulu real estate market, as well as all of the surrounding towns across the island, or bordering Honolulu. I was born and raised in east Honolulu (a proud homeowner and investor) and intimately familiar with our beautiful Honolulu community, from the broader term of Honolulu, right down to the micro communities within it, and would be delighted to share my knowledge with you as you consider all of your options.

I invite you to check out more info about me, and please drop me a line if I can help.

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Sue Connelly

June 13, 2014

Beautifully written blog Caron!!! Just wanted to let you know and say hello!


Sue Connelly

June 13, 2014

Beautifully written blog Caron!!! Just wanted to let you know and say hello!


John Zamora

August 8, 2015

Hello i am in the process of moving back to hawaii and i need help on finding a rental property target date would be end of october.

John Zamora

August 8, 2015

Hello i am in the process of moving back to hawaii and i need help on finding a rental property target date would be end of october.

Keanu E. Lyau

October 2, 2016

craigslist works good for me. I found a spacious 10’x23′ room in beautiful aiea hts for $775 incl util.

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