Owners at large Maui hotel-condo say they’re being forced to evict wildfire evacuees
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state is investigating one of the largest hotel-condominiums in West Maui after some owners alleged they were being forced to evict wildfire evacuees.
The conflict comes as the area prepares to welcome visitors back starting Sunday.
The Honua Kai Condominium Association in Kaanapali has 700 units — more than half of which are filled with fire evacuees. Average room rates range from $400 to thousands of dollars per night.
In late September, Honua Kai sent a letter to owners saying over 1,400 people have been sheltered there with the aid of the Red Cross, including property employees and first responders.
But some owners say that same letter informed them they’d have to evict wildfire evacuees by the end of October. Now, they’re worried about being sued if they don’t comply.
“I’m certainly not going to kick them out,” said Carl Hu, an owner who lives in Seattle.
The letter to owners said:
“Owners should contact their property managers to ensure that they are managing the owner’s unit is compliance with all governing document provisions, including managing the termination of Red Cross leases within the 60-day limit.
“Liability for any violation of governing document provisions is the responsibility of the owner.”
Hu has been an owner at Honua Kai for 13 years.
He said based on the letter, he will have to terminate the arrangement with a current evacuee in mid-October. He adds that the Oct. 8 tourism reopening in West Maui has pitted owners who are getting reimbursed by FEMA (like himself) against owners who don’t want evacuees living there.
“I think it’s just natural for these owners to look at their pocketbooks and think, ‘Oh my God. People are not going to come here unless they see a banner out in front that says 100% refugee free,” said Hu.
But Board President Dr. Stuart Mumm said Honua Kai is not evicting or suing anyone.
“At a Honua Kai Condominium Association board meeting yesterday, the board approved a process through which owners who wish to house displaced persons longer than the 60 days allowed in our governing documents, can request permission to extend leases until Dec. 1,” he said, in a statement.
“We are confident that when the state investigators learn the true facts, they will have no issues with Honua Kai.”
The Office of Consumer Protection says it doesn’t comment on pending investigations.
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