Vacation Rental in Hawaii with Airbnb, Expedia Group

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell today signed two memoranda of understanding (MOU) between the City and County of Honolulu and short-term vacation rental platforms Airbnb and Expedia Group, parent company to vacation rental website Vrbo. The MOU is designed to help Honolulu officials effectively track and regulate vacation rentals, ensuring the community can receive the full tax and tourism benefits vacation rentals provide, while controlling the spread of illegal vacation rentals. These new memoranda of understanding help facilitate effective enforcement of vacation rental laws, allowing responsible vacation rental operators to advertise with online travel platforms.

“We know there are bad actors out there, and this will help us crack down on them. While this is not a panacea, it’s a step forward,” said Mayor Caldwell. “I also want to thank Airbnb and Expedia for stepping up to the table and help to provide solutions for legal short-term rentals on O‘ahu. For our residents who depend on this income, we want to provide an avenue for people to list their rentals in a legal, and transparent manner. This collaboration will also provide a step forward for effective enforcement of illegal vacation rentals, and ensures that our neighborhoods remain neighborhoods for local families.”

This agreement will help the City and County of Honolulu enforce vacation rental laws, reducing the number of illegal rental operations. It will allow responsible vacation rental operators to advertise their homes on online travel platforms, while requiring platforms to regularly provide the City and County with information on its vacation rentals, and in turn the City and County of Honolulu will be able to request a permanent delisting of illegal vacation rentals.

The two participating short term rental platforms have agreed to provide the City and County of Honolulu with detailed information sufficient to accurately identify the vacation rental unit and identify if it is permitted under the law of the City and County of Honolulu.

“This pandemic has highlighted just how important it is that cities, communities and industry work together on effective, long-term solutions,” said Amanda Pedigo, vice president of government affairs at Expedia Group. “Today’s agreement will help responsible vacation rental owners and managers stay in compliance with local laws and provide the City and County with insight into the local vacation rental market. Expedia Group thanks Mayor Caldwell and his team for their collaboration and leadership. We are thrilled to be part of an agreement that will benefit the people of Honolulu as the City and County work towards economic recovery.”

“As the City works to build back from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, short-term rentals will continue to be a vital source of supplemental income for local residents and revenue to support the local visitor industry,” said Matt Middlebrook, Airbnb Regional Policy Lead. “We are grateful to Mayor Caldwell and his team for working with us on an agreement that preserves the benefits of short-term rentals for residents and the local economy, while providing the City the tools it needs to help enforce current laws.”

Each MOU outlines important new steps taken by vacation rental platforms, including:

  1. Creating a mandatory field for displaying the government-issued Tax Map Key (TMK) and Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) number of each property—without these numbers on the listing, a property will not be permitted on the platform.
  2. The TMK and TAT numbers will be published on the publicly facing property listing.
  3. Existing properties on the platform will have 60 days after implementation – or 60 days after the city and county issues first Bed and Breakfast (B&B) registration, if this issuance comes after MOU implementation – to provide TMK and TAT numbers. Properties failing to provide TMK and TAT numbers will be deactivated.
  4. New properties will be required to provide their TMK and TAT number before being able to list on a platform.
  1. Expedia Group and Airbnb will continue to communicate with the City and County of Honolulu. The platforms will provide monthly reports of the TMK and TAT numbers of properties on their websites.
  1. The platforms will also remove property listings if they lack a TMK or TAT number or are deemed noncompliant by the Department of Planning and Permitting.

This is the second MOU signed in Hawai‘i for Expedia Group and Airbnb. Following agreements with Kaua’i County earlier this year, The City and County of Honolulu worked with Expedia Group and Airbnb to find a policy solution tailored to Honolulu’s unique needs.

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