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OAHU Vacation Rental regulations Bill 89 FAQ

Where can I find the full details of the Oahu 30-day rule?

This is the official document: http://www.honolulu.gov/dppstr/default.html

What is Bill 89?

Bill 89 confirms earlier legislation on zoning for tourism accommodation. It sets out penalties for unauthorised vacation rental and Bed and Breakfast accommodation. It was passed into law as Ordinance 19-18 and comes into effect on 1 August, 2019.

What is Oahu Ordinance 19-18?

It is the same as Bill 89, but on passing into law it is renamed as Ordinance 19-18.

Why is Bill 89 needed?

In many parts of the world, similar legislation has been enacted to protect communities from artificially inflated real estate prices and to restore full time residents to residential areas. The need for regulation stems largely from the growth of Airbnb and the stampede of investors to get good returns from residential properties in areas with high tourist demand. A more cynical view is that the authorities have caved in to pressure from hotel companies to stamp out the unregulated competition. The need for regulation is undoubtedly real, though Bill 89 is not a good solution as it negatively impacts the local economy.

Which areas are classified as "Resort Areas"

'Resort areas' are limited to only some sections within Waikiki, Koolina, and Turtle Bay Resort.

If I set a minimum stay of 30 days, will it be OK to continue to advertise on Airbnb or VRBO?

Yes, but you need to specify in the ad that the rental period is for a minimum of 30 days.

I already have bookings of less than 30 days. Can I still honor these?

Legally, you cannot. However, there is no indication that the County will take action against hosts who allow existing bookings to go ahead. The initial enforcement target is against advertising short-term accommodation.

What is a NUC?

A Non-conforming Use Certificate. These are permits for short term rentals which are not in one of the designated resort areas. New NUCs have not been issued in the past 30 years. Existing NUCs must be renewed every even-numbered year.

What about taking paying guests in my own home?

Bed and Breakfast use is subject to slightly different restrictions. A registration scheme will be offered for a limited number of premises meeting the criteria and renewal of the registration is required annually. However, the registration scheme is not ready for use and in the intervening time, it seems unlikely that action would be taken against B&B operators.

If I list my property on a site that is not compliant but I am only taking minimum 30-day bookings, who is breaking the law: the site or me?

It appears that both are. Your advertising shows a nightly rate which is not permitted. You are in breach of the regulations. The site which carries your ads should have applied for registration which will not be granted if nightly rates are shown. The site will be in breach of regulations as soon as the registration scheme is launched.

What are the penalties imposed by Bill 89 (Ordinance 19-18)

The penalties are preceded by a warning. A warning letter was sent by the county to about 5000 owners at the end of July 2019. If the advertising activity does not stop within 7 days after the warning, fines can be issued. Fines of between $1,000 and $10,000 can be imposed for each day the advertisement remains on display.

Can I get around the regulations by giving renters a 30-day contract regardless of their real length of stay?

No. To be compliant, each stay must be at least 30 days. How this can be detected and enforced is unclear.

Can I get around the regulations by saying that the guests are my friends or family?

No. By doing this you run the risk of getting into much deeper trouble. Bill 807 makes it a misdemeanor offense to knowingly make a false statement to a county inspector.

Can I get around the regulations if I use my Oahu property in a home-exchange scheme?

No. This is covered in the regulations. Any "reward" for use of your property is treated the same as if you were charging for that use.

What are the options for owners of short term rentals on Oahu?

Assuming that your rental is not in a designated Resort Area and doesn't have a NUC, your only options are to cease renting altogether or to comply with the 30-day rule and advertise only on sites which are compliant. Unfortunately, the quantity of 30+days rentals available will swamp the number of visitors who are able to stay so long, so bookings at a sustainable price are likely to be very rare.

Can I continue to advertise my Transient Vacation Unit?

After August 1, 2019, only if the dwelling has a NUC or is located in a resort area, you can continue advertising. If you do not have a NUC or your property is not in a resort area, then you can advertise your property with minimum 30 days stay rule.

How do I distinguish my legal long-term rental advertisement from an illegal short-term rental?

Specify in the ad that the rental period is a minimum of 30 days or more.

I am advertising my Transient Vacation Unit with 30 days minimum stay rule, but the platform I use is showing the nightly rate, even though the minimum stay is 30 days. Will I be liable?

No, The advertising of daily rates is not prohibited by Ordinance 19-18. In other words, you can have daily rates. If you specify in your ad that your minimum rental period is 30 days, your advertisement complies with Ordinance 19-18.

What are the fines for illegal advertising?

Owners of the property involved in illegal advertising will be notified, and if the advertisement is taken down in 7 days, no fine will be imposed for a first offense. If not taken down within this deadline, fines of between $1,000 and $10,000 can be imposed for each day the advertisement remains on display.

When will the department start enforcing the new advertising restrictions?

Beginning on August 1, 2019.

If the management company for my property places an illegal ad, will the company get cited?

They may be cited, but Ord. 19-18 says, "The burden of proof is on the owner of the subject real property to establish that the property is not being used as a bed and breakfast home or transient vacation unit or that the advertisement was placed without the property owner's knowledge or consent."

My property is in a resort area, can I continue advertising for less than 30 days?

Technically, yes. But you need to display your property license in your advertisement, otherwise, you might get a warning. Ord. 19-18 only requires those with NUCs to include the NUC number in advertisements beginning August 1, 2019.

How can I campaign to get the law changed?

You can present your case to your Council member:
Council District 1- Kymberly Marcos Pine, 768-5001
Council District 2- Heidi Tsuneyoshi, 768-5002
Council District 3- Ikaika Anderson, 768-5003
Council District 4- Tommy Waters, 768-5004
Council District 5- Ann Kobayashi, 768-5005
Council District 6- Carol Fukunaga, 768-5006
Council District 7- Joey Manahan, 768-5007
Council District 8- Brandon Elefante, 768-5008
Council District 9- Ron Menor, 768-5009

What are the chances of getting the law overturned?

There are potential legal challenges to the law on several grounds.

Legal process can be long so you should not expect any quick resolution. You should join discussion groups such as the FB group "Oahu short term rentals 30-day rule discussion group" and join OSTRA: http://www.oahushorttermrentalalliance.org/ to stay informed.

Enforcement of regulations for short term rentals (30-day rule) in Oahu begins on August 1st, 2019. With the exception of properties with a NUC and those in designated 'Resort Areas', no short term rentals or B&B accommodation is permitted for stays of less than 30 days.