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Honolulu’s to require a 90-day minimum stay for short-term rental

Apr 20

Travelers heading to Hawaii and planning to stay in a vacation rental versus a hotel should take note: A soon-to-be law will affect short-term rentals throughout Oahu, increasing the minimum stay at non-resort-area short-term rentals from 30 to 90 days.

Last week, the Honolulu City Council approved a bill which, if signed into law as expected, would require bookings for short-term rentals in residential areas to be for stays of at least 90 days. Currently, these stays are restricted to a minimum 30-day booking.

The legislation is the result of an ongoing conflict between local Hawaii residents and the state’s financial dependency on tourism, per reporting by Honolulu Civil Beat, a nonprofit news organization covering Hawaii.

“Short-term rentals are disruptive to the character and fabric of our residential neighborhoods; they are inconsistent with the land uses that are intended for our residential zoned areas and increase the price of housing for Oahu’s resident population by removing housing stock from the for-sale and long-term rental markets,” the bill reads. “The City Council finds that any economic benefits of opening up our residential areas to tourism are far outweighed by the negative impacts to our neighborhoods and local residents.”

Despite support from most council members and some residents, others, including Airbnb, criticized the bill, mostly focusing on the bill’s failure to provide exemptions for “transient occupants,” such as health care professionals, seeking temporary accommodations in the wake of natural disasters.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, health care professionals, first responders and even patients have required temporary accommodations, and have turned to our platform to help meet this need,” Toral Patel, Airbnb policy manager, said in a letter to the city council on April 13 shared with TPG. “Similarly, disaster relief workers and displaced residents relied on our platform for medium-term accommodations in the wake of natural disasters, including the 2018 Kilauea volcano eruption on the Big Island, during which Airbnb Hosts opened their homes free of charge for these individuals.”

Councilwoman Andria Tupola, a Republican representing District 1, also echoed Airbnb’s concerns as the only member to vote against the bill, which also drew opposition from the World Surf League of Hawaii, regarding concerns about the bill’s “potential to devastate professional surfing in Hawaii” if there were to be a lack of affordable short-term options for professional surfers visiting Hawaii for competitions.

“International professional surfing is the only pathway to a World Title. Without traveling surfers or workers, global surf events will not be possible on Oahu – and the road to a World Title will bypass our islands,” the group wrote in a letter addressed to the city council on April 11. “This would be an unprecedented blow to surfers, surfing, and Hawaii itself.”

Although the debate over the bill in its current form remains, Mayor Rick Blangiardi is expected to sign it into law, after which it would take effect within 180 days.