Facing fine for illegal vacation rental, Airbnb host weighs her future

Kailua woman openly defying new law against illegal vacation rentals

KAILUA, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - For several years, Fabienne Melchior has been an Airbnb host on a quiet street in Kailua.

Melchior has run afoul of the city’s new law against unpermitted short-term vacation rentals as as result.

She was not surprised at all when she received a notice of violation Saturday. It basically gives her until this Friday to take down her ad on the Airbnb web site or face fines.

For now, Melchior hasn’t decided yet on whether she will do that.

“I will decide at that point if I compromise, because I can’t afford $1,000 a day penalty, that will go to $10,000 after two weeks, I guess,” she sasid.

At last check, the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting had issued 37 notices of violation, with seven removing their ads, or changing them to comply with the law.

One operator was under threat of being fined, but as of Sept. 11, no fines had been issued.

Melchior said she’s retired and needs the revenue to help pay her mortgage. If she can’t keep the vacation rental operating, she said she may have to leave.

“OK, I’ll pack my bags and I’ll get out of the country because I have no reason to stay here,” she said. “I’m retired. This is how I live and this is the one placed in the United States that I want to be.”

Melchior said since the new law took effect on Aug. 1, she’s had even more customers who’ve come to her house because other operators have shut down.

Melchior is mindful that the fines may be too much for her to afford.

However, she said she’ll decide what to do by the end of the week, and hopes that her decision will get her a day in court to fight the law.

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