Council considers caps on vacation rentals, fines of up to $50,000 for rule breakers

Updated: May. 6, 2019 at 5:59 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Proposals before the City Council this week are aimed at drastically reducing the number of vacation rentals on Oahu ― and put in place big fines for lawbreakers.

The body will take up the issue Wednesday.

One bill calls for stiff fines of $25,000 to $50,000. Another would virtually make it illegal to operate a vacation rental outside of resort areas, unless there’s an owner-occupant.

“If you are receiving fines of up to 10s of thousands of dollars day ... you are going to stop what you are doing or the city is going to place a lien on your home,” said City Councilman Ikaika Anderson.

The city said that there could be 8,000 vacation rentals outside of resort areas ― and that only 800 would be legal.

One of the bills would allow 1,700 vacation rentals, but they would have to be owner occupied.

The mayor thinks that’s too few because they are popular with tourists.

“I’m a little bit concerned about finding the balance, you know. I can see some unhosted -- some not many. But there’s demand for that," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

But Caldwell agrees that the industry needs to be brought under control.

“We don’t want to eliminate them, we want to regulate them and we want a level playing field where everyone pays the same taxes," he said.

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