City: Number of illegal vacation rentals has dropped sharply in wake of new law

City: Number of illegal vacation rentals has dropped sharply in wake of new law

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Since the city approved a new law aimed at regulating short-term vacation rentals, the number of illegal rentals on Oahu has dropped sharply, city officials say.

Kathy Sokugawa, acting director of the Department of Planning and Permitting, said when the city first started notifying owners of unpermitted vacation rentals in July, there were about 5,000 listings online.

Since then, the number has dropped to about 3,000, she said.

“It’s had tremendous impact on our communities, on the operators and their neighbors, a lot of positive effects,” Sokugawa said, at a news conference Tuesday.

The new law is getting some pushback, though.

Last week, the Hawaii Vacation Rental Owners Association sued the city, saying the legislation will make it impossible to advertise vacation rentals even if they are legal.

They said the law also will be devastating for tourism.

The condo owners of the Waikiki Banyan also plan to sue.

During Tuesday’s news conference, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the suits will not stop the city from enforcing the new law.

“I don’t want anyone out there with an illegal vacation rental to think that because of this lawsuit and lawsuits out there that the City and County is not going to enforce the laws,” he said.

“We are in fact investigating a couple of hundred violations right now."

Paul Mayer, managing partner for Elite Pacific Properties in Kailua, contends the new law will take a huge economic toll on owners of vacation rentals ― and the businesses that rely on them.

“There’s a tremendous amount of concern among thousands of people whether they were doing it legally or illegally. That’s besides the point, there’s going to be a lot of pain for those folks," said Mayer, whose firm manages dozens of legal vacation rentals.

“There’s a whole ecosystem of service providers all around the vacation rental industry ― the cleaners, the landscapers, the pool guys ― all of that money goes away.”

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