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Hawaii Is Getting Tired Of Airbnb

Hawaii Is Getting Tired Of Airbnb
Scott Dylan

The Aloha State wants to wave goodbye to Airbnb. Lawmakers in Hawaii are considering the idea of taking measures to impose heavy regulations and taxes on Airbnb rentals. Changes would be made on the state level to sharply reduce the number of units that could be rented via Airbnb and other home-sharing platforms. Hawaii wouldn’t be the first place on the globe to fight back against Airbnb. Cities around the world are limiting the number of properties that can be shared with short-term tenants as a way to fight back against noise pollution and a loss of culture in historic neighborhoods. The list of cities that currently impose tight regulations when it comes to how Airbnb can operate includes Paris, Barcelona, London, Amsterdam, New York and San Francisco.

Hawaii’s distaste for Airbnb comes at a time when the number of short-term rental properties available on the islands has reached an all-time high. In fact, the Hawaii Tourism Authority is reporting that the number of short-term rental units available in the state increased by 5,716 during the period from 2013 to 2017. The shocking piece of news that goes along with that figure is that hotels in the state added only 842 rooms during that same period. This no doubt has hotel operators worried that they are about to be left behind by vacation travelers seeking their own little slices of paradise that don’t include generic hotel rooms. Short-term rentals are growing faster than any other type of overnight accommodation in Hawaii at the moment.

What are officials saying when it comes to why they want to make it harder for Airbnb to operate in Hawaii?

Those in support of new regulations say the huge increase in short-term rentals is making it more difficult for local residents to find and keep affordable housing options. This is especially true in a place like Oahu where the expensive housing market already makes finding a place to live pretty tough for many locals. Keep in mind that Hawaii already has the highest cost of living in the United States. What’s more, many residential neighborhoods in Oahu and other places are experiencing congestion that is making life unpleasant for those who can afford to stay.

Will new regulations really make a difference for Hawaii?

It’s not like the state hasn’t already tried to curb the number of peer-to-peer rentals that are offered. A rule that was already passed limits the number of rentals that are allowed on Oahu beyond the designated resorts zones of Waikiki and Ko Olina to just 800. However, several times that many properties are being used for short-term rentals illegally at the moment. In fact, as many as one in four homes in popular spots like the North Shore are likely being used as rentals right now if you believe the estimate that’s being put out by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Not everyone in Hawaii wants to see Airbnb go. Many tourism companies are warning that suddenly wiping out all of the available rental homes will have a very negative impact on Hawaii’s tourism sector. Hawaii’s tourism industry is currently growing at about 7% per year. Airbnb is claiming some responsibility for that growth. Airbnb and Expedia have written letters in opposition to any new regulations. The Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association has written a letter on behalf of the 50,000 hotel rooms it represents throughout Hawaii to voice its support of new legislation that would tax and limit home-share properties. The good news for anyone making money off of Airbnb rentals in Hawaii is that it doesn’t appear that the new legislation will be passed before the current session ends. However, you can bet that another push will be made in the very near future if this one fails.

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (6)


  1. LookingForRewards

    May 25, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    Where are the people in Hawaii that should be trying to protect the manufacturers of typewriters, pay telephones, and buggy whips?
    Yes, Airbnb may hurt hotel business… but this is the new economy. This is the history of business in America. So Hawaii, it’s time to get used to the new emerging technology that gives us Uber and Airbnb!

  2. MimiB22

    May 26, 2019 at 5:13 am

    Airbnb is ruining communities. I live in South Florida and short term rentals are a huge problem. No one wants transients in our residential communities. In fact, the golf community I live in [almost 4,000 residents] has banned all rentals of less than one month. This policy came about of necessity. One example, a nice home in my own neighborhood, just across the pond from mine, was rented to a group of teenage boys for a school end holiday. There seemed to be an adult there at least part of the time, but the boys roamed through our private back yards, played loud music out by the pool well into the night and were generally loud and rowdy. Security was called at least 4 times. At one point, I heard [sound carries across the water] I heard one of the boys tell security that the neighbors were “a bunch of old fuddy duddys” and they had paid good money to have fun at the house. Tenants entitled attitudes are why Airbnb is NOT WELCOME in residential neighborhoods.

  3. OZFLYER86

    May 26, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    there are plenty of ways around a so called airbnb ban. For example, many home exchange companies now work off points, which you can buy, so you can do a home exchange, ie. for money & the buyer doesn’t actaully swap houses, just money for accommodation.

  4. Ijag77

    May 28, 2019 at 7:19 am

    As an SF resident I am also on board with limiting Airbnb. I pay a LOT of money to live in a secure building in my neighborhood and it would make me feel a LOT less secure if a unit in my building were to continuously have random strangers coming in and out, gaining access to the building entry codes (since it’s a residential building the code only changes annually or if compromised), gaining access to the parking garage where a lot of residents store things, etc. my HOA has a rule that you can’t have shorter than a one year lease and yes I absolutely would report any of my neighbors who tried to get around it. Airbnb may work in certain situations but for people living in small secure buildings in a city getting progressively more dangerous I have no interest in letting random strangers in to share the common areas with my child & family.

  5. snic

    May 29, 2019 at 7:51 am

    @LookingForRewards – I’m a big fan of AirBnB, which has completely transformed (for the better) both my vacations and business travel. But think about it: tourists used to stay in hotels in tourist zones. Even cities that were huge tourist destinations had plenty of quiet neighborhoods where few tourists would stay. But now, any neighborhood is fair game for AirBnB. Housing so many tourists transforms neighborhoods, partly because not every tourist is quiet and respectful. I completely understand that not everyone in those neighborhoods is thrilled with that transformation – even though those are exactly the kinds if neighborhoods I like to stay in myself.

    In the end, a balance needs to be struck between the wishes of long-term residents and the need to support tourism with appropriate infrastructure. It’s probably inevitable that we’ll see more regulation of short-term rentals, and I can’t really complain about that.

  6. 777 global mile hound

    July 11, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    How can they raise the resort and destination fees through the roof if they don’t ban house sharing ?

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