Report: Number of Hawaii vacation rental homes is rising

HONOLULU — About 1 in 24 homes in Hawaii is a vacation rental, which is contributing to the state’s shortage of affordable housing, according to a report by an advocacy group.

The Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice released a report Wednesday, finding that the number of short-term vacation rental units has increased by 35 percent during the last two years, Hawaii News Now reported .


The number of rental units in Hawaii has increased from 17,000 in 2015 to 23,000 in 2017, according to the report.

“That rate of expansion of vacation rentals, taking that critical affordable housing away from our residents, really shocked me, to be frank,” said Victor Geminiani, the center’s co-executive director.

Geminiani said the proliferation of vacation rentals is worsening the state’s housing crisis. More than half of the 23,000 vacation rentals in Hawaii are owned by non-residents, he said.

On the island of Kauai, 1 in 8 homes is a vacation rental. About 1 in 7 homes is a rental unit on the island of Maui, according to the report.


“On Maui, there are about 9,000 units that are being used as vacation rentals,” Geminiani said. “Only about 300 are actually legal, so it just indicates the extreme that can happen on a particular island.”

State lawmakers are considering legislation requiring websites that list residences or rooms for short-term rental to release rental operator information to county officials for license verification.

  1. shirl March 25, 2018 7:34 am

    Vacation rentals equal absentee landlords. If the owners have any reps. on the Island
    they are mostly useless. They collect their fees and do nothing in return.

  2. Bigislandfarmer March 25, 2018 9:00 am

    So they take a press release from a hotel industry hack lobby group and release it totally unquestioned as news! Something like 80% of these are actually in resort zones where they are specificlaly allowed and designed to be vacation rentals. 96% of homes ARE NOT vacation rentals, which is 23 out of 24. The number 1 in 24 is not high. What is the number outside of resort zones? Far, far lower than that. This phony “study” made no effort to eliminate resort zoned properties nor multiple listings. Most are listed on 2-10 sites, they don’t list addresses, so there is no way to get a true count. Come on WHT, do some actual reporting on facts. Oh wait, the hotel and development industry runs ads which help fund your paper. Just more corruption.

  3. Joan Sheldon March 26, 2018 6:19 am

    Definitely, vacation rentals by owners should be licensed. If authorities posted signs and put lock boxes on illegal units, when vacationers showed up and couldn’t get in , that would put a stop to it. Hawaii legislatures need to toughen up and do it soon.

  4. March 26, 2018 9:14 am

    While this information is really lacking on specific details, it is apparent that short term rentals are impacting affordable long term rentals throughout neighborhoods in Hawaii County. However, this is just one factor. Property values are so high, that working families simply cannot afford to buy anything, especially anywhere from Keauhou going northward as the median price makes homes or condos out of reach, especially when coupled with the large down payment required of 25 – 30% or more. It’s a buyer’s market and anybody wanting to buy or rent has to have a stash of cash. Long term rentals are renting for exhorbitent amounts, and landlords are “milking it” and renting places that aren’t well maintained. They don’t feel obligated to “fix” anything because they know someone else who is desperate will come along and rent the place and likely for more money, without them having to make repairs, etc. Lenders are also very selective in who they will finance, making qualifying difficult, even if one can come up with the large down and have a good employment history. No wonder more people are leaving Hawaii than are moving here………..only the investor property owner can be successful in this situation, not the working local family.

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