A significant chunk of Hawaii’s houses are used as vacation rentals, report says

A new report found that more and more Hawaiian homes are being converted into vacation rentals, raising questions about the permissibility of the practice in the state.

The report, by the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, finds that 1 in 24 homes in Hawaii — or just over 4 percent — are being listed as short-term rental units on home-sharing and home-rental websites like Airbnb, according to Hawaii News Now.

On islands such as Kauai and Maui, that number rises to just 1 in 8 homes (12.5 percent) and 1 in 7 (14.2 percent) respectively.

“That rate of expansion of vacation rentals, taking that critical affordable housing away from our residents, really shocked me, to be frank,” said Victor Geminiani, who claimed that more than half of the state’s 23,000 vacation rentals were owned by non-residents.

He further argued that just a fraction of those were “actually legal.”

The Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice concurred, writing in a press release that every vacation rental has a negative impact on the local economy, raising prices in the area and leaving locals without afforable housing.

“The loss of long-term rentals to VRUs means higher housing costs for Hawai‘i residents. Although Hawai‘i derives some benefits from VRUs through increased tourism spending and tax collection, the benefits are far outweighed by the costs.”

In their report, the Hawaii Appleseed Center suggested that Hawaii should “consider adopting measures that will help reverse the damage caused by the proliferation of illegal VRUs [vacation rental units] in the state,” in part by requiring the VRU owners to be present whenever a renter occupies the space, and by informing communities about their rights to file complaints against illegal rental units.

Democratic State Senator Glenn Wakai further argued that locals have had “enough already” when it comes to the “large” and “loud” vacation rentals, according to Hawaii News Now.

Recently, the state’s legislature has also introduced a bill that would force home-rental websites to divulge the personal information of VRU owners, which would help authorities determine if they’re operating legally. Airbnb, on the other hand, has alternatively proposed a set of “common sense regulations” for Hawaii’s home-owners and renters.

“Efforts to ban alternative accommodations would be devastating for the local economy, hurting small businesses and local residents,” the company stated, per Hawaii News Now.

A representative for Airbnb was not immediately available to comment.

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