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Hawaii’s Tough New Airbnb Restrictions Could Be Overturned

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Measures have been taken to curtail Oʻahu vacation rentals when the state introduced Bill 41, which increases the minimum stay to 90 days.. The newly introduced bill is designed to slow down short ter vacation rentals outside of Oahu’s resort areas, which currently host an estimated 10,000 to 14,000 rental homes. 

view of waikiki beach

The bill was signed on April 13 and went into effect from October 23 this year. The authorities responsible for drafting the bill doubted the legality of many of the existing rental homes. In addition, they expressed concerns about the parking spaces they consumed and the disturbance caused to the neighbors due to the loud noise of partying guests.  

boat in waikiki beach

However, this has not gone well with the current homeowners, who find the new laws invasive and violating their rights. As a result, the Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance (HILSTRA) has decided to sue the City and County of Honolulu and the Department of Planning for their actions.

Gregory Kugle, the attorney for the plaintiffs, claims that the lawsuit’s goal is to “protect the grandfathered rights of property owners.”

oahu's landscape

The problem with Bill 89, which specified the homeowner could rent a property in 30-day increments 12 times a year, was that among several thousands of short-term units on Oahu, it was impossible to police who followed the protocol correctly and who did not. 

The recently filed complaint seeks to protect the homeowners who rented units out for more than 30 days but less than 90. HILSTRA believes these should be ‘grandfathered’ and allowed to continue the status quo. The complaint formally requests the court to require the city to set up a procedure to determine which set of homeowners should be ‘grandfathered’ in. 

waikiki beach in oahu

HILSTRA believes that the 30 days rentals fill the special void in the supply-demand symbiosis as these clients are not served by traditional hotels that are distant from resort zones. They stress that the people who are using the rental homes for 30-89 days are traveling healthcare workers and other professionals who may find themselves left in the cold when October comes and the bill thrusts into force. 

waikiki beach at night

There were several dissatisfactions about the bill, with opinions surfacing that the law was rammed through with the primary goal of pushing most tourists and vacationing residents to stay in hotels and concerns that the rental supply will decrease as fewer owners rent. Paul E Nachitagl, one of the vocal critics of the bill, goes as far as to write that the only beneficiaries of the regulation coming into action are the hotels. 

oahu highway

The bill is a culmination of years of struggle between Hawaii locals and tourists and comes in the wake of the first entire season of post-pandemic travel. Despite the islands getting a significant financial lift from tourism, the tourism favorability among the locals is dwindling with land gentrification, irresponsible tourism and inflation to the point that the state has become the most expensive place to live in the US

Amid the new ruling and the newly filed lawsuit, the registrations for new rentals have been temporarily suspended in Oahu. 

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