Navigating Hawaii’s New Short-Term Vacation Rental Regulations Requiring 30+ Night Stays

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Hawaii is a popular tourist destination that attracts millions of visitors every year. To accommodate the growing demand for short-term vacation rentals, many property owners have been renting out their homes and apartments on platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo. However, in recent years, the state of Hawaii has been cracking down on these rentals with new regulations and restrictions.

In November 2018, the Hawaii County Council passed Bill 108, which regulates short-term vacation rentals (STVRs) on Hawaii Island. This bill defines STVRs as dwelling units with no more than five bedrooms for rent and requires that all STVRs be registered with the county. Additionally, it prohibits any new STVRs from being established in residential areas and sets a minimum stay of 30 days for all rentals.

The latest regulations were signed into law by Governor David Ige in June 2021 and affect both individual property owners and companies that manage vacation rentals. One of the most significant changes is the implementation of a new permit system for short-term rentals. Property owners are now required to obtain a permit from the Hawaii Department of Taxation before renting out their property. This permit will be valid for five years and must be renewed before it expires. The permit fee is $500, and the renewal fee is $300.

The law also restricts the number of permits available for short-term rentals in each county. For example, on the island of Oahu, only 1,700 permits are issued. This limit ensures that there are enough long-term rental units available for residents and prevents the proliferation of vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods.

Another significant change is the requirement for property owners to provide a local contact person for guests to reach in case of emergencies or complaints. The local contact person must be available 24/7 and must reside on the same island as the rental property.

The regulations also include strict noise and occupancy limits. Rental properties cannot exceed 10 occupants or one person per 200 square feet, whichever is less. Additionally, vacation rentals are not allowed to operate between 10:00 pm and 8:00 am, and outdoor amplified sound is prohibited at all times.

The enforcement of these regulations is the responsibility of each county, and violations will be subject to hefty fines. For example, a property owner who operates without a permit could face a fine of up to $10,000 for each violation.

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In October 2022, Honolulu City Council proposed an ordinance that would prevent people from renting out properties—rooms, guest houses, whole homes and the like—for anything less than 90 days. The ordinance was blocked by a judge shortly after but could still have potential implications for thousands of landlords and renters in Honolulu.

Finally, there is also a proposal currently going through the state legislature that would make sweeping changes to vacation rental rules across Hawaii. This includes requiring hosted rentals with an owner residing on the property to register with the state and setting fines of up to $10K for violations of these regulations.

Overall, these recent changes to vacation rental regulations in Hawaii are important for both landlords and renters alike as they will shape how short-term rentals are conducted in the state going forward.

The regulations and proposed changes have been met with mixed reactions from property owners and renters. Some property owners are concerned that the restrictions will hurt their income and make it harder for them to pay their mortgages. Others, however, believe that the regulations will protect residential neighborhoods and make the rental market more stable.

For renters, the new regulations could mean fewer options for vacation rentals and potentially higher prices. However, the regulations aim to ensure that the rental properties available are safe, well-maintained, and not disruptive to local neighborhoods.

However, due to the requirement of all new STVRs to have a minimum stay of 30 days, this opens up an opportunity for vacation rental managers and property owners to provide monthly and multi-month stays for their rentals. The market for these types of rentals range from snowbirds to digital nomads and traveling nurses. There is an audience of people available to specifically target for these types of vacations.

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If you are a property manager or owner in Hawaii, listing on websites like Monthly Rentals by Owner can connect you with an audience that is specifically looking for these types of vacations while you follow all regulations set in place by Hawaii’s government.

If you are planning a trip to Hawaii, it is important to be aware of the vacation rental regulations and licensing requirements. Depending on the island you are visiting, different rules may apply. For example, on Oahu, Bill 41 requires that all short-term rentals must be registered with the city and county. Additionally, all hosts must obtain a business license from the state in order to rent out their property. On other islands such as Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island, there are various zoning laws that regulate vacation rentals.

Overall, it is essential to research local laws before booking your trip so that you can ensure you are compliant with all applicable regulations.

The new short-term vacation rental regulations in Hawaii are aimed at balancing the needs of property owners and residents. The regulations will help ensure that the rental market is stable, and that residents are not displaced by vacation rental guests. While the regulations may present some challenges for property owners and renters, they are a necessary step toward creating a sustainable and fair vacation rental market in Hawaii.

Source: Debi Steigerwald, Gather Vacations

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