Hawaii Is Cracking Down on Vacation Rentals Amid a Housing Crisis

Travelers looking to rent an Airbnb or VRBO in Hawaii will have to look a little harder.

The Aloha State has signed a new bill that will put more regulations on short-term rentals, which are currently contributing to the destination’s housing crisis. The law, which was signed by Gov. Josh Green on Friday, grants counties the power to regulate vacation lodging in local areas or eradicate them altogether.

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“The bill clarifies the counties’ authority to control the time, place, manner, and duration of land uses, particularly transient accommodations including short-term rentals,” Gov. Green explained in a statement posted to X (formerly known as Twitter).

Last year’s wildfires in Maui were a driving force in the decision to sign Senate Bill 2919 into law. The 2023 disaster burned down more than 2,500 acres and displaced thousands of individuals. Nine months later, survivors are still looking for permanent housing. Currently, a shortage of inventory has driven up the cost of living in Maui with home prices clocking in at a whopping three times the national average, The Guardian reported.

“As we press forward with our ongoing wildfire response and recovery efforts, SB 2919 will be a pivotal tool to address Hawaiʻi’s housing crisis, while ensuring our essential housing programs for Maui recovery remain robust,” Gov. Green said in a statement. “Our commitment to maximizing housing availability on Maui and statewide persists, and the state continues to extend support to legal owners who contribute to Maui wildfire relief efforts.”

Since the bill was passed, Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen has already revealed plans to remove roughly 7,000 short-term rental units, including 2,200 in West Maui, by January 1, 2026, Hawaii News Now reported. Gov. Green has also announced that the state intends to build over 13,000 affordable housing units in the next two years.

“We understand that there’s going to be a give and take,” Mayor Bissen said during a press conference last week. “So the question is what is most important? And our priority is housing our local residents, especially now.”

A similar crackdown happened in New York City last September. The number of short-term Airbnbs in the Big Apple dropped 70 percent after the city enforced a new law that required rental owners to register their properties, according to Wired. The new rule was partly enacted to get more available units on to the rental market.

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