Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell will soon sign off on a plan to crack down on illegal short term vacation rentals.
The Honolulu City Council passed bills 85 and 89 on Monday, meant to regulate the practice, but there are concerns about how the new laws would be enforced.
City Council member Ron Menor, said they’ve added specific provisions in the bills to help the department of planning and permitting enforce the law.
“The hosting platform provisions will be required to provide monthly reports to the DPP with the names, addresses, transient accommodations numbers, length of stay and price that’s paid per listing,” Menor explained.
That is important information previously kept confidential by vacation rental websites.
Anyone offering or advertising short term rentals will be required to have a registration number from the DPP and to display it on all forms of advertisement. Without one, they would be in violation of the law and the DPP would begin assessing fines.
“There’s no question that the bill that the council has passed will strengthen enforcement. For example, there are stiff fines, which we hope, will deter illegal activity in the future,” Menor said.
Those fines start at $1,000 for the first violation to be paid by a specified date. An additional fine of $5,000 would be charged for each day the violation persists thereafter.
Anyone with recurring violations would face a $10,000 fine to be paid by a specified date, and an additional fine of $10,000 per day until the violation is rectified.
Money collected from fees and fines will help pay for the enforcement process.
Improvements will also be made to develop a system for complaints.
“The DPP Is also going to have to set up a public complaint process which neighbors who identify or detect illegal activity can report these complaints in a expeditious fashion,” Menor explained.
But not everyone is convinced the city will be able to properly police those who continue to operate illegal short term vacation rentals.
Steven Parker, the owner of Kailua General Store, said he doesn’t think they’ll be able to enforce the laws at all.
“They couldn’t even enforce the law before. So now they make more laws with more teeth, presumably, but there’s no one to enforce it,” Parker said.
“What are you going to do? Shake everyone down?”
If Caldwell signs bill 85 or 89 into law, it will go into effect this August.