Airbnb and Hawaii’s Kauai County reach agreement to help enforce short-term rental laws

Official photo Kauai County Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami. Photo courtesy of County of Kauai, Office of the Mayor)

By Alfred Acenas
EBC Hawaii Bureau

HONOLULU (Eagle News) – Kauai County Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami and Airbnb announced on Monday, June 29, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to help the county enforce its short-term rental laws. Under the agreement, hosts without a valid Tax Map Key (TMK) will be removed from the Airbnb platform upon notice from the County of Kauai.

Kauai law allows short-term rentals in designated Visitor Destination Areas (VDAs) or areas designated for hotels. The new agreement will make it easier for the county to enforce against short-term rental operators outside these designated areas.

“Following months of dialogue, we are pleased that Airbnb has partnered with the county to promote only legally permitted short-term rental operators on our island and we look forward to continued partnership,” said Mayor Kawakami.

As outlined in the MOU, hosts on Airbnb will be required to input a TMK number on listing pages in order to appear on Airbnb’s platform. Every month, Airbnb will share a report with Kauai’s Department of Planning that includes the website for each listing and the corresponding host-provided TMK number. The County will use this monthly report to verify the TMK numbers. Hosts that fail to provide a TMK or input an invalid TMK will be removed from the platform and only allowed to relist once they provide a valid number.

“Short-term rentals are a vital source of supplemental income for local residents, and for many the only source of income,” said Matt Middlebrook, Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy in Hawaii. “We are grateful to Mayor Kawakami and County Planning Director Ka‘āina Hull for working with us on an agreement that preserves the benefits of short-term rentals for residents and the local economy, while providing Kauai County the tools to bring rental owners and operators into compliance with local law. We hope this agreement serves as a fair, common sense model for other counties looking to promote compliance and leverage the benefits of home sharing.”

Under the agreement, Airbnb will also commit to educating hosts about the County’s short-term rental laws to promote compliance.

Airbnb will share a link of Kauai County’s licensing and information web page on its responsible hosting page and share information about the County’s requirements with hosts ahead of the launch of the mandatory TMK field on its listings.

(Eagle News Service)