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City Gets 40 Complaints On Possible Illegal Rentals As Online Tip Form Launches

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Honolulu officials have received 40 complaints of suspected illegal short-term rentals this week, most of them in Kailua.

This comes after the city launched a new online form that makes it easier for residents to report suspect rentals offered for less than 30 days.

In August, the city began enforcing Ordinance 19-18, originally Bill 89, prohibiting online advertising of illegal vacation rentals, including on platforms like Airbnb, Expedia and Vrbo.

During that time, it has issued more than 240 violation notices to owners of suspected unpermitted rentals, according to the city Department of Planning and Permitting. A majority of the citations were based on resident complaints.

To streamline the process of reporting suspected illegal rentals, the city set up the online form for residents to anonymously send in tips. The city is required to respond to the complainants within 30 days of a submittal.

Kathy Sokugawa, acting department director, says online instructions will guide residents on the kinds of information about a rental that is helpful in investigations.

“What we need obviously are the street address, some identification. If you were able to talk to the people, ask them where they’re from, how long are they staying, what are they planning to do when they’re here. Those kinds of information would be very helpful,” she said.

Illegal rentals in Kailua have long been a source of resident complaints. Its location near the coastline has made it a popular community for vacation rentals. In February 2016, Hawaii News Now reported Kailua had the most illegal vacation rentals in a crackdown by the city.

More information on the city's short-term rental regulations is posted on its website.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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