Operators of legal vacation rentals file suit, alleging new city law is ‘unconstitutional’

The new law would force vacation home operators to rent for at least 90 days officials said.
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 7:13 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 7, 2022 at 8:31 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city’s new crackdown on illegal vacation rentals hasn’t taken effect yet, but it’s already facing its first legal challenge.

The Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance said the new vacation rental law is unfair to landlords who have been renting their units on a month-to-month basis for decades.

The alliance also said operators are not responsible for the problems associated with illegal short-term rentals — such as neighborhood noise and the lack of street parking.

The new rental law would force landlords to rent for at least 90 days.

“It’s unconstitutional,” said vacation rental owner Matt Trevino.

“I believe the City and County knows this. And they still went went ahead and moved forward with it.”

Attorney Greg Kugle, who represents the alliance, said the new law not only harms thousands of “legal” vacation rental owners but it also harms consumers. He said consumers include military families, contractors and healthcare professionals who need legal temporary rentals.

In addition, Kugle said the new law could be considered a “taking” by the city if it starts to seek stiff fines against property owners who had previously been allowed to rent their apartments for 30 days or more.

In response to the suit, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he was ready to defend against legal challenges. “We believe strongly in Bill 41 and the positive impact it will have on communities across Oahu,” said Blangiardi, adding the city will “vigorously defend” the new law.

Opponents said they aren’t seeking to overturn the entire law. Instead, they want their existing rentals grandfathered in so they can continue to rent on a month-to-month basis.

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