Priced Out of Paradise

THE VACATION RENTAL INDUSTRY has exponentially expanded with the growth of online home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb, Flipkey, and Homeaway. The state of Hawai‘i alone hosted approximately 23,000 vacation rental units (VRUs) in 2017, meaning one out of every 24 of our housing units is a VRU.

While not every city has adopted such a comprehensive strategy, Hawai‘i’s counties have the opportunity to model their ordinances off successful VRU regulations from around the world. Appleseed finds that the most effective VRU ordinance:

  • Holds platforms liable for illegal transactions on their websites;
  • Requires platforms to provide data on VRUs to cities;
  • Imposes meaningful fines;
  • Focuses on bringing major offenders and commercial hosts into compliance;
  • Empowers neighbors;
  • Limits the number of units a host may rent and nights a unit may be rented;
  • Bans VRUs from operating in inappropriate types of housing; and
  • Provides clear restrictions on Non-Conforming Units (NCUs).

Commercial operators already dominate our VRU industry: as of November of 2018, 73.5 percent of Hawai‘i hosts operate multiple listings, and 84.8 percent of Hawai‘i listings are entire homes or apartments. VRU conversion will not go away on its own; the financial incentive to operate VRUs is so great that only powerful enforcement tools can save our valuable housing stock. It is imperative that our counties employ enforcement strategies that will help, not hurt, our residents.