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Kauai, Airbnb Reach Agreement on Vacation Rentals Regulation

AP Photo/Jaymes Song
In this photo taken on May 19, 2009, a couple of surfers head home after spending the day at Hanalei Bay in Kauai.

The online hosting platform Airbnb has agreed to help Kaua?i County enforce its short-term vacation rental laws, Mayor Derek Kawakami and Airbnb announced yesterday.

Airbnb will remove any short-term rentals on Kaua?i from its platform if hosts are not operating within the parameters set by county. Kawakami says this agreement with the online hosting platform has been in the works for quite some time.

The agreement follows Kauai's deal with the Expedia Group last week that aims to better track and regulate vacation rentals.

"What we?re trying to avoid is getting into regulating something that we really don?t have the expertise locally to regulate," the mayor said.

Kaua?i County currently limits short-term rentals to areas that are designated for hotels and resorts. But enforcement continues to be riddled with litigation and complaints about people renting out properties in residential neighborhoods.

"What we?re working towards doing is just making sure that these third-party platofrms that advertise short-term stays on Kaua?i are actually advertising properties that are in compliance with our county ordinance and rules," the mayor said.

The new agreement requires Airbnb hosts to submit their tax map key numbers to the platform – which will be shared with the county for verification. Ka??ina Hull, planning director for Kaua?i County, says Airbnb will reach out to hosts over the next several months to ensure the tax map keys or TMKs are added to listings.

"If they don't enter the field, then eventually they're going to be delisted," said Hull. "Any new host is also going to enter the appropriate TMK, and if it is an invalid TMK, one that is not in a visitor destination area or a TMK that is fraudulently used by a host to try and get onto the platform, those are all ones that will begun to be  delisted once it goes into effect."

Both the Expedia Group and Airbnb agreements will take effect over the next two to four months.

Kawakami said the two companies constitute a large market share of the vacation rental advertising market. Having them collaborate with the county's planning department will "make our job a lot easier," Kawakami said.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at
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