Hawaii to Implement More Regulations on Short-term Rentals — What Travelers Need to Know

The new law allows counties to ensure short-term vacation rentals are not allowed in areas the local community does not want them.

<p>eyfoto/Getty Images</p>

eyfoto/Getty Images

Hawaii is imposing more regulations on short-term rentals, allowing each county to set their own rules when it comes to these homes.

The law, Senate Bill 2919, was signed by Gov. Josh Green on Friday and allows counties to ensure short-term vacation rentals are not allowed in areas the local community does not want them. The law comes after devastating wildfires swept through Maui last year, which intensified the need for housing.

“As we press forward with our ongoing wildfire response and recovery efforts, SB 2919 will be a pivotal tool to address Hawaiʻi’s housing crisis, while ensuring our essential housing programs for Maui recovery remain robust,” Gov. Green said in a statement. “Our commitment to maximizing housing availability on Maui and statewide persists, and the state continues to extend support to legal owners who contribute to Maui wildfire relief efforts.”

With the new law, counties can “control the time, place, manner, and duration of land uses, particularly [with] transient accommodations including short-term rentals,” according to the governor’s office. Counties in Hawaii will now be allowed to tax and regulate short-term rentals just like hotels and designate them as a non-residential use for zoning purposes, or restrict them altogether, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA).

“For too long, illegal short-term rentals have encroached into residential neighborhoods and put homeownership out of reach for hard-working families, including the thousands of Hawai‘i residents who work in hotels,” AHLA Interim President and CEO Kevin Carey said in a statement. “AHLA has worked hand-in-hand with community partners and the government to support [common sense] regulation that ensures hotel employees and all residents can afford to live where they work, and this critical law will help achieve that outcome.”

Already, Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen announced plans to eliminate about 7,000 vacation rentals, including 2,200 in West Maui, Hawaii News Now reported.

Hawaii isn’t the only destination looking to crack down on short-term vacation rentals. New York City, for example, imposed new rules on these rental homes last year, requiring hosts to register their listings with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement and requiring booking platforms to ban unregistered listings.

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