Honolulu signs MOU with Airbnb and Expedia

US: Hawaii’s capital Honolulu has signed a memorandum of understanding [MOU] with both Airbnb and Expedia to improve the enforcement of rental laws in the city.

Both companies will now share information with the city and assist with education and place certain licensing features on their listings.

Properties in Honolulu will now be required to display their Tax Map Key and Transient Accommodations Tax number on their listing. New properties will be required to show this before listing, while existing properties have 60 days to display these numbers or risk deactivation.

Braid Saito, deputy corporation counsel, said: “Using this information, the Department of Planning and Permitting [DPP] will be able to identify permitted and un-permitted short-term rentals and they will also be able to request that unpermitted short-term rentals be permanently taken down from the platforms. This is a big game-changer for the city because once the illegal listings are taken down, they don’t go back up, so we really are eliminating illegal short-term rentals from the marketplace.”

Honolulu mayor Kirk Caldwell had previously noted that illegal short-term rentals have created “huge problems” for the city and other Oahu communities. He had previously signed Bill 89 into law in 2019, which established regulations and increased fines for operators in violation of those rules.

Kaua’i county, another one of the Hawaiian Islands, signed its own MOU with Expedia Group earlier this year. The terms were similar, emphasising displayed tax information with a similar 60-day penalty from non-compliant properties.

The two companies have further agreed to inform hosts about county rules on their site, as well as providing monthly reports to the city with links to specific properties. The Department of Planning and Permitting will be able to use this information to request properties breaking the law be removed from the platforms.

In statements, both companies confirmed their commitment to the memorandum, noting that it would help responsible short-term rentals continue operating. They have also committed to seeking out similar agreements with other counties.