How to Get a Rental in Hawaii

by | Jun 21, 2020 | Rentals

Applying for a rental is very similar to applying for a job. There are many aspects that a property manager will look at when analyzing applicants for a rental. As a property manager, it is my job to confirm and do background checks. However, the great majority of the time, I already know who I want to be renting to after meeting a prospective tenant. Here is an easy list of dos and don’ts to improve your chances in getting a rental in Hawaii:


Arrive on Time:

There is nothing worse than arriving late. I take that back. Arriving late and not informing the property manager might be the worst thing you can do! Time is a valuable and scarce resource. Sometimes I will be running around town for the majority of the day due to appointments. Leaving a showing late because you were late can have a domino effect for my entire day.

Confirm Your Appointment:

Good communication usually is a good sign of a good tenant. Confirming with the agent or office that you will make a showing will already make you stand out against other applicants, especially if you are attending a showing with multiple people. Sometimes this small task will trump a bad credit score in my analysis!


One of my biggest pet peeves is when a prospective tenant really likes, maybe even loves one of my rentals. It’s a big let down if they then say at the end, “I’ll let you know if I’ll apply after I see a couple more houses after this appointment.”

There are 2 main reasons you should apply if you like the rental: 1) The Hawaii rental market is pretty competitive. If you do not apply when you have the chance, it may not be available in the near future. 2) If you don’t apply initially, I will believe that you don’t really want to live in my rental. This is actually important on a gut level because the tenants that are excited to move into a rental usually make great tenants. If I receive 2 applications for the same property and both applicants are similar, I will prefer the tenant that applied on the first visit, rather than applying after seeing all their options.

Bring Your Documents, Information, and Application Fee:

If you have everything you need to apply, it shows that you’re serious in becoming a tenant and or that you’re organized. Both traits make great tenants. I will be checking on your background, but bringing your information saves me a lot of time. It also makes you shine against an applicant that didn’t bring their information.

Not bringing an application fee when advertisements clearly state the cost of the application also makes you look bad. It’s like not bringing your resume to a job interview.



A high maintenance tenant is a big pain in the behind and can make a property manager’s life dreadful. When looking for a tenant, I always look for good credit and high income. However, as long as I feel confident a prospective tenant can pay the rent, tenant attitude and personality is far more important to me.

If there is something that is blatantly wrong such as exposed wires, holes in the walls, non-working appliances, or smoke/pet odors, it is of course important to make sure repairs are going to be done. When I hear complaining, it is a big red flag in my mind. There is a good chance that many defects or lack of updates are already taken into account with the rent price. If there is truly one thing preventing you from renting the property (and it’s not price), then yes, please bring it up. Just be careful in how you say it.


Negotiating is just like complaining as just mentioned, but its about the price or terms of the rental. It is true that if a landlord is desperate, negotiating will sometimes get you a deal. However, why would a landlord choose you for a rental if someone else isn’t negotiating for it?

If you feel the need to negotiate, it is important to make it a win-win situation for the property manager. An example could be offering to do the yard work for a discounted rent. Another example could be to do certain upgrades or repairs for a fraction of the market price (or even for free) for reduced rent.


No one likes being lied to! If you are caught lying on an application, it is a sure way to NOT be chosen. As mentioned previously, good communication is highly desirable in a tenant. If you have bad credit, a bankruptcy, a problem with your current/previous landlord, criminal conviction, etc, it is best to disclose these things when you turn in your application and explain what the situation was.

It is true that any of these scenarios will make it harder for you to get a rental but being honest will make you stand out in a positive way. I have rented to many people that have gone through bankruptcy or had criminal convictions before. They were given a chance because they were honest with me from the beginning. If you are caught lying after being accepted, this may put your rental in jeopardy.

Kids – A Grey Area:

A property manager can’t legally discriminate against you based on family size or family ages. Bringing your children to a showing will give a landlord a look into how your family acts at home. This can make a property manager feel confident or uneasy about choosing you.

Bring your kids if you believe they will behave themselves while at the showing. When young children act behaved at a showing, that information gets passed on to the owner.

It’s not the only information that gets passed on though. When children begin fighting or causing damage to the property, then red flags are raised. If a child keeps hitting the walls, or physically runs into one, red flag. If your child pulls the curtains or blinds off the wall, red flag. If I have to babysit your child while you’re filling out an application, red flag. In one instance, I remember picking a baby up from the wall when their interest in the electrical outlet got a little too serious (red flag!).

Don’t Forget to Analyze the Management Company:

Remember, while you and your family are looking for a good fit with a home, I am looking to see if you are a good fit for me. There are many property management companies on Oahu and I’m sure we may manage our rental differently. Do not forget to see if you and your family are a good fit for the management company. Don’t feel afraid to walk away from a great house that isn’t managed properly. If you are unsure how to analyze a property manager, many of these tips can also be used to assess whether a particular landlord will be a good fit for you.

Best of luck with your rental search! If you’d like to see which rental properties are available in Oahu nearby, you can check our available vacancies at