Lawmakers Weighing Additional Short-Term Rental Regulation

Jun 29, 2020

Short-term vacation rentals in Hawaiʻi may be reopening to more regulation under COVID-19.

A bill before state lawmakers would give counties added authority over rentals. Supporters say itʻs an effort to protect residents from tourists staying at the rentals. But opponents argue the bill goes too far.

A bill before state legislators would allow counties additional tools to regulate short-term rentals, including greater control over advertising on hosting platforms.

Michele McLean, Maui County planning director, said this is a change counties have long wanted.

"State law right now isnʻt clear on whether or not counties have this authority. In order for us to regulate vacation rentals, we need to be able to regulate how they are advertised," she said.

House Bill 460 would also give counties subpoena power for enforcement and the ability to create a publicly-available rental registry.

The measure would also require travelers entering Hawaiʻi to submit a Place of Stay Declaration Form, including a complete physical address for the short-term rental.

"It would certainly help under COVID-19. To a degree, this is being done now with airport personnel screening incoming passengers," McLean said.

Opponents of the bill argue the measure is intrusive and overly restrictive.

Neal Halstead is with the Hawaiʻi Rental By Owner Awareness Association. He says the bill is redundant because counties already have systems in place to address any concerns.

"It seems to us that thereʻs a whole bunch of steps in there and few steps too many," he said.

"Certainly the neighbor islands have really good processes in place and this has evolved over the past eight, nine years. Weʻve seen the counties come up with these solutions. The county that continues to struggle is the city and county of Honolulu."

The Senate Ways and Means Committee takes up House Bill 460 tomorrow at 10:20 a.m.