Good News for Kauai’s Ohana Units

Kauai to Allow Kitchens & Long-Term Use in Guest Houses

Akin to a small cottage, an ‘ohana is a small structure originally intended as a close, but separate space for extended family, which is how the ‘ohana (“family” in Hawaiian) got its name. While Hawaii ranks #1 in the US for having the most multi-generational families living under one roof, many homeowners also view having an ‘ohana unit as a valuable asset for its long-term rental potential.

Recently sold Wailua Homestead house + guest house | 7009 Pomaikai (MLS 621301)

Colloquially known as an ‘ohana, the County of Kauai formally defines a guest house as a detached unit, separate from the main home, with an interior space of less than 500 square feet; not to be used as a vacation rental. Oh, and up until last week, it legally could not be long-term occupied or have a kitchen (READ: not even a cooking element – no stoves, microwaves, toaster ovens, rice cookers, hot plates, etc.).

Last week, the County of Kauai passed Bill 2754, allowing these structures to serve as long-term dwellings with a full kitchen. Proposed by Councilmembers Mason Chock and Arthur Brun, this common-sense bill now legalizes what was commonplace. Prior to the bill’s passing, many guest houses were occupied by long-term tenants and possessed either an illegal full kitchen or some sort of makeshift “glamping” kitchen setup. The County is framing the bill’s passage as one of many steps “…to help address the severe backlog of inventory of affordable housing,” according to Mayor Derek Kawakami.

While at the same time this legislation condones what was already common practice with guest houses, it also raises the question: Will the County allow a similar vehicle for AG buildings on agriculturally-zoned properties? The answer remains unknown.

Still, while most properties do not carry guest house rights, many residential-zoned homes are eligible for an ARU* (Additional Rental Unit), which also serves to alleviate Kauai’s “high demand, low inventory” rental market. Here is the County’s ARU form.

Questions & More Info

If you have questions about guest house rights, ARUs or anything else covered in this blog, please let me know.

To see my luxury land listing, which comes with guest house rights, click here: Kapaka Rim Lot with Unobstructed Hanalei Views

* ARU exceptions include, but are not limited to: community CC&Rs prohibiting second dwellings, properties west of the Hanalei River, etc. Check with the County for further details.


Lauren Pingree
(808) 212.8058

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Patricia Pingree

August 27, 2019

I really like the O’hana
I am looking to relocate to Kauai within a year…and will be visiting soon
I am looking for homes or condos for sale
AND….never thought I would see another ‘Pingree” here 🙂
more later

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