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The Ultimate Guide to Hawaii Vacation Rental Fees

The Ultimate Guide to Hawaii Vacation Rental Fees

The same term ‘Vacation Rental Fees’ gets used in different contexts, and it can get quite confusing. The purpose of this article is to explain most possible fees that a traveler to Hawaii can expect to pay. We mainly discuss those fees as they apply to vacation rental industry, and mention hotels for comparison only. All quoted taxes and fees are in USD.

What are Vacation Rental Fees?

Vacation Rental Fees include any fees that a traveler, staying in a vacation rental property, must pay on top of nightly rental rates. They can be roughly divided into property-related fees and portal service fees.

Property-related fees include occupancy taxes. checkout cleaning fees, administrative fees (such as resort fees), etc. Those fees are collected by vacation rental owners/managers and respectively passed on to the state, cleaners, resorts, etc. They are necessary for running the legal vacation rental business and for keeping the property in good condition.

Portal service fees are any booking or service fees collected by management companies or big portals, such VRBO, Airbnb, Trip Advisor, etc. in addition to property-related fees. Travelers can avoid paying portal service fees when renting directly from owners.

Disclose all Vacation Rental Fees or price them into the rates?

Some owners tend to include Property-related fees in their rates, believing that listing less fees will make better impression. But this approach leads to uneven costs. Let’s say a check-out cleaning cost is $140. If the minimum stay is 7 nights, to recover the cost of cleaning the owner needs to increase the rate $20/night. But then guests, staying over a week, would automatically pay more. In addition to this discrepancy, different treatment of fees by different owners adds more confusion to potential guests, making it harder for them to compare quotes. At HomeyHawaii.com, we believe in disclosing all fees and not pricing them into rates.

No Service Fees when you book on HomeyHawaii.com

We don’t believe that travelers benefit enough by paying large portal service fees. What are the pros and cons of paying up to 15% on top of nightly rates and property-related fees?

Service Fees – Pros:

* large inventory of listings
* the ease of searching by dates and locations
* standardized cancellation policies
* availability of instant booking
* booking guarantee
* sense of security that a “big brother” is watching over your booking
* large number of reviews

Service Fees – Cons:

* large portals have their “best match” algorithms of what properties they show in the search, which works for the benefit of their profits and is not based on what’s best for traveler
* there is no reliable way to search within a given condo resort or rental community and see all there is available for your dates
* cancellations of instant bookings can be painful
* the booking guarantee offers basic protection from fraud, but offers little monetary reimbursements in other instances. There are free ways to avoid scams.
* in case of any dispute, the negotiations are always between travelers and owners and is subject to the signed contract or posted rules; the portals don’t interfere in most cases

Property-related Vacation Rental Fees in Hawaii

HomeyHawaii.com fee system allows owners to input all possible fees, and makes quotes readable and transparent to guests.

1. Hawaii “occupancy” or “lodging” tax consists of two taxes – TAT and GET

This is an obligatory tax that travelers pay to the hotel or vacation rental owner/manager and that gets passed on (paid) to the particular Hawaii county where this hotel or vacation rental is located. The combined tax doesn’t have an official name, so it is called differently on different sites. It is a sum of two separate taxes – TAT (Transient Accommodation Tax) and GET (General Excise Tax).

TAT: The transient accommodations tax is calculated based off the nightly rate of your lodging. As of January 1, 2018 it’s 10.25%.

GET: This tax is paid by consumers on anything they purchase in Hawaii, including accommodations. For transient accommodations, the GET is 4.5% on Oahu and 4% elsewhere is Hawaii. But because it gets paid on the sum of the actual nightly rate and the GET tax itself, it effectively becomes 4.712% of nightly rate on Oahu and 4.166% – in other counties.

So, the sum of TAT and GET is 14.962% of nightly lodging rate on Oahu and 14.416% – in other Hawaii counties.

2. Additional cost per guest

It’s a standard hotel practice to charge an additional amount per night per guest for parties over 2 guests. Some vacation rental owners might want to make their rates more affordable for smaller parties and charge additional amount for extra guests. Hawaii occupancy tax applies to this fee, as this affects the rental rate.

3. Cleaning fee

This is a very standard check-out cleaning fee, the cost of cleaning the property after the guest checks out. In most hotels, this fee is hidden in the rates. In vacation rental industry, this fee is usually quoted separately.

4. Administrative fees

Most hotels and condominium resorts charge additional fees to run their front desks, booking departments, parking facilities, etc. Those fees can have different names such as resort fee, booking fee, etc. They can range from a constant one-time fee to a per-night fee.

On HomeyHawaii.com, there are two places to see this fee in the quote. If the owner collects this fee prior to arrival to pass it later on to the resort, the Administrative fee will be shown in the quote and included in the total to pay to the owner. If owner doesn’t collect this fee in advance (preferred way for both parties), it will get listed and explained as On Arrival fees below the quote’s total.

5. Property Protection

To protect the property from an accidental damage, some owners offer a fixed-cost Damage Waiver insurance or other Property Protection program.  Traveler might expect to pay around $50-60 one-time fee to be covered for up to $1500 in accidental damages during the whole stay. This program works well for larger parties and small children.

6. Refundable Security Deposit

Another way to compensate the owners in case of an accidental damage is to collect a security deposit. Most often, it is an amount of $300 or more, which owner collects before arrival and refunds in 7-10 business days after departure is there were no damages or additional cleaning charges.

7. On Arrival fees

Those are any fees that are not collected by vacation rental owner/manager in advance, and that the traveler will have to pay at the time of arrival. The majority of those fees are the above-mentioned administrative fee, collected by condominium resorts. At HomeyHawaii.com, we encourage the owners to describe those fees if collected by their resort, and we include the description after the quote for travelers to be aware of.


Vacation rentals remain the best value for your hard-earned money. Property-related vacation rental fees can widely vary between owners and between resorts, so it can be confusing to concern yourself with every fee. If you are on a budget, rent directly from owners, compare the totals that you would be paying and choose the best property for your money.

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