Honolulu mayor signs new law to regulate vacation rentals

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu’s mayor has signed a bill giving the city stronger tools to regulate vacation rentals and their operators, a report said.

Democrat Kirk Caldwell signed the bill Tuesday to allow permits for about 1,700 hosted bed-and-breakfast establishments beginning in October 2020, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

The Honolulu City Council voted 9-0 to pass the bill June 17.

The new law does not offer additional permits for more prevalent and profitable whole home transient vacation units.

Caldwell vetoed a separate measure to crack down on thousands of illegal vacation rentals without offering a path for them to become legal.

Honolulu stopped issuing new permits for vacation rentals in 1989, leaving 816 legal rentals outside resort zones.

The city planning and permitting department estimates there are 6,000 to 8,000 illegal vacation rentals on Oahu.

The law requires operators to include a permit number or address in advertisements, including those on Airbnb, Expedia and other vacation rental hosting platforms.

The rule will make it easier to target illegal rentals by enabling planning and permitting staff to study websites instead of physically visiting locations, officials said.

Fines for operating illegal rentals could reach $10,000, officials said.

The law is expected to be challenged by hosting platforms and some Oahu rental operators.

Vacation rentals reflect a trend of visitors who want an alternate experience from those offered by hotels and resorts, while providing revenue to homeowners, supporters said.

The increasing numbers of vacation rentals wreak havoc on residential neighborhoods and decrease available homes during a housing shortage, opponents said.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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