Kauai, Airbnb Reach Agreement on Vacation Rentals Regulation

Jun 30, 2020

The online hosting platform Airbnb has agreed to help Kauaʻi County enforce its short-term vacation rental laws, Mayor Derek Kawakami and Airbnb announced yesterday.

Airbnb will remove any short-term rentals on Kauaʻi from its platform if hosts are not operating within the parameters set by county. Kawakami says this agreement with the online hosting platform has been in the works for quite some time.

The agreement follows Kauai's deal with the Expedia Group last week that aims to better track and regulate vacation rentals.

"What weʻre trying to avoid is getting into regulating something that we really donʻt have the expertise locally to regulate," the mayor said.

Kauaʻi County currently limits short-term rentals to areas that are designated for hotels and resorts. But enforcement continues to be riddled with litigation and complaints about people renting out properties in residential neighborhoods.

"What weʻre working towards doing is just making sure that these third-party platofrms that advertise short-term stays on Kauaʻi are actually advertising properties that are in compliance with our county ordinance and rules," the mayor said.

The new agreement requires Airbnb hosts to submit their tax map key numbers to the platform – which will be shared with the county for verification. Kaʻāina Hull, planning director for Kauaʻi County, says Airbnb will reach out to hosts over the next several months to ensure the tax map keys or TMKs are added to listings.

"If they don't enter the field, then eventually they're going to be delisted," said Hull. "Any new host is also going to enter the appropriate TMK, and if it is an invalid TMK, one that is not in a visitor destination area or a TMK that is fraudulently used by a host to try and get onto the platform, those are all ones that will begun to be  delisted once it goes into effect."

Both the Expedia Group and Airbnb agreements will take effect over the next two to four months.

Kawakami said the two companies constitute a large market share of the vacation rental advertising market. Having them collaborate with the county's planning department will "make our job a lot easier," Kawakami said.