Investors purchase single-family lots, build deluxe homes—often with multiple kitchens, coin-operated laundry, and upwards of 29 bedrooms—and then rent the properties as four- or five-unit apartment buildings. They are inflating the market by purchasing homes for far above asking prices and charging exorbitant rents on the makeshift apartments disguised as single-family homes. Those who live in the affected areas are being displaced by these investors intentionally driving up the cost of living in order to increase profits.
Residents are taking action to curb the unjust and illegal real estate practices in their community. In January 2018 the Honolulu City Council Planning Committee advanced a measure calling for a moratorium on monster houses and limiting house size to 3,500 square feet regardless of number of stories or lot size. By July, two more bills had come before the city council. The first retroactively allows the demolition of existing monster homes. The second increases fines for contractors who continue to build after being issued a stop work order.
On March 13, 2018, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed into effect a moratorium for up to two years on building permits for homes that cover more than seven-tenths of a lot. The bills proposed in July both passed the initial committee reading and will move on to public and city council hearings.
On April 17, 2019 Honolulu City Council unanimously passed a bill that restricts homes from having a floor area greater than 70% of their lot’s size. The bill, which became law on May 1, 2019, also limits the amount of impervious surfaces to 75% of the lot size.
— Cassie Dana, One Big Home Researcher
Hawaii council passes bill to slow growth of monster houses
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