Vacation Rentals Continue To Decline On Oahu, Surge On Neighbor Islands

Feb 26, 2020

The latest data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority shows the number of short-term vacation rentals on Oahu continued to decline, while Maui and Kauai saw substantial increases.


Oahu had 30,0000 fewer short-term rental nights available in January 2020 compared to the same month last year. That’s a decline of 13%.

The islandwide drop masked an almost 12% increase in short-term rentals offered in Waikiki, where rentals of less than 30 days remain legal.

In 2019, the City and County of Honolulu adopted a new law aimed at cracking down on the unpermitted use of houses and condos as vacation rentals. The practice had been illegal since 1989, but was largely viewed as unenforceable.

Ordinance 19-18, formerly known as Bill 89, allows authorities to issue a notice of violation based solely on a property being advertised as a short-term rental. Previously, inspectors had to catch violators in the act of renting a property for a period of less than 30 days.

Owners in neighborhoods zoned as resort districts, like Waikiki, are allowed to operate short-term rentals without a special permit. Any property can legally be rented for a period of longer than 30 days.

Elsewhere across the islands, the number of vacation rentals available grew, in some cases substantially.

Hawaii Island saw a modest increase of 9%, concentrated around Kona. Hilo actually posted a slight decline of 0.1%.

Kauai experienced a 23% increase islandwide.

Maui had the largest year-over-year increase, showing 27% growth in available vacation rentals. Wailea and Lahaina both posted double-digit increases, with 26% and 36% respectively. The rate of growth in Lahaina was the highest of anywhere in the state.

In response to the figures, Maui County said in a statement that it continues to crack down on illegal rentals.

Authorities are using custom software, designed by the vacation rental monitoring company LODGINGRevs, to identify potential violators from posted advertisements.

The county says that in 2019 it issued 180 warnings and 80 notices of violation to illegal rental operators.

In a 2018 ballot referendum, Valley Isle voters approved an amendment to the County Charter levying initial fines as high as $20,000 and $10,000 per day after that for violating the county’s short-term rental regulations.