Airbnb and Expedia agree to help crack down on illegal vacation rentals

Airbnb and Expedia Group will help the city crack down on illegal short-term vacation rentals under an agreement Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the two online platform giants announced Tuesday.

The arrangement would allow the city to track and regulate vacation rentals and ensure that operators are properly permitted and taxed. “We’re going to be able to address problems that have never been addressed before,” Caldwell said.

Vacation rentals have been a contentious issue on Oahu for years.

Supporters say they provide a different way for visitors to experience Oahu while giving operators some additional income to help offset the high cost of living here.

Opponents say they’ve gotten out of hand, overtaxing the infrastructure and destroying the character of residential neighborhoods, cutting into the already hurting hotel-resort market and taking away badly needed units that could be rented to locals.

Two years ago the city estimated that there were 6,000-8,000 illegal vacation rentals on the island, although others have estimated there may be as many as 25,000 unpermitted units outside of hotel-resort zones, where they are legal.

The agreement is beneficial to both operators, who want fair and clearly defined rules, as well as “neighborhoods around Oahu who want to see clear guardrails around the use of vacation rentals in their community,” said Matt Middlebrook, Airbnb Hawaii policy manager.

By Kristofel Abella
Ka Lā News staff writer

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