“Free Rent” in Hawai‘i? Here’s What That Really Means

Ads on Craigslist now claim “free rent” in their headline. We dug deeper to find out what that really means for renters.

Perusing Craigslist, renters might notice a new teaser in the headline of some ads: Free Rent! We hear of incentives like this in Mainland markets where there are more rental properties available than needed, but that’s rarely an issue in our market. Could it be a sign of the rental market softening? Or is it just an attention-getter for properties that most would overlook? We dug deeper and here’s what we found.


Kuamoo Marquis
Kuamo‘o Marquis, $1,200 a month.
Photos: Craigslist


Take this Waikīkī studio: It’s secure, cute, upgraded and you get two weeks free rent when signing a lease. Multiple units are available, and it’s centrally located. Teaser or not, it’s real, and thus, a nice way to save $600 in rent.


A similar headline offers free rent for a renovated two-bedroom at The Palms of Kīlani in Wahiawā ($1,799 per month long term). The leasing agent confirmed it was true—sign a lease in February, move in now, and your first rent isn’t due until March 1. Bonus: Your pet is welcome. Certainly seems like a deal to us, so long as you choose to move in early in the month. 


Wahiawa apartment
The Palms of Kīlani in Wahiawā, $1,799 per month.


And then there’s all the rest: “free rent” in the headline or key words section of the post (often along with every other search term known to house-hunters) and no sign of any rent discount once you click the link or read the description. Tread carefully.