Waimanalo resident Kahaunanai Mahoe-Thoene has been mulling over the idea of building an Accessory Dwelling Unit on her property since March. On Monday, she was the first person to apply for a permit.
"If it's finished by Christmas that's awesome," said Mahoe-Thoene.
The new law allows folks to construct a second home on their property. It can be attached to the main house or a completely separate unit.
Size could range between 400 and 800 square feet.
"We know if it's a large unit it's going to rent for a lot more. We want units to be built that are affordable," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
By increasing the supply city leaders hope the overall price of rentals will drop. Strict rules are in place to prevent ADUs from being used as illegal vacation rentals.
"This is a restricted covenant document," said Mayor Caldwell.
It says a renter would have to sign a minimum lease of six months. It also prevents the sale of the unit after it's built. The homeowner is also prohibited from advertising the ADU as a vacation rental. Violators could be fined up to $1000 a day.
"I think a lot of these ADU's that are being built will actually be rented to young couples or seniors who need an affordable rental," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
Mayor Caldwell admits this law won't necessarily get everyone off the street. But he believes the units will help keep people from falling into homelessness. Others are also looking forward to potential benefits.
"I'm excited because the opportunity is there for homeowners to gain additional income," said Mahoe-Thoene.
City leaders said that they will be hiring up to five more inspectors who will be tracking rental websites such as VRBO and Air B and B to make sure these ADUs are not listed for short term rental.