The Big Island of Hawaii has adopted a new law that will affect where you can book or operate a short term vacation rental (STVR). Ordinance 2018-114 regulates STVRs and deals with eligibility, registering and obtaining a permit to operate a legal STVR on the Big Island (Hawaii County).

Hale O' Honu'ea in the Fairways of Mauna Lani is zoned RM-4, which is one of the permitted zoning districts for STVRs. UPDATE: We've received Hawaii County Ordinance 108 registration: STVR-19-351357 .

What does this mean for the Hawaii traveler? If you're booking a vacation rental on the Big Island, no matter whether you book direct (through a property's individual website or Houfy), a property management site, on Airbnb, VRBO, or elsewhere, check the vacation rental listing for:

- Hawaii State GET & TAT tax ID numbers (for any STVR on any of the Hawaiian islands)

- Hawaii County STVR Permit number or notation that it has been applied for (for the Big Island only). Similar bills and amendments are undergoing the legal process on other Hawaiian islands, so please check each island's county website for current STVR rules.

If the listing doesn't show this info, we recommend contacting the owner before booking to confirm that they are in compliance with filing their state GET and TAT (taxes), AND have their Hawaii County STVR permit, and ask them to update their listing/advertisement with the STVR registration number. All STVR advertisements are now required by the new law to include the STVR registration number.

As of this update (February 10, 2020), the permit does NOT apply to "hosted" rentals. If the property is the owner's primary residence and they are present on-site with the guest, then this ordinance does not apply. Be very careful to read listings for "hosted" rentals (more typically found on Abnb than VRBO): if the owner will be on vacation and is not present during your stay, it is no longer considered "hosted" and may be in violation of the new STVR laws.

What does this mean if you are looking to purchase and operate a vacation rental on the Big Island? Read Ordinance 2018-114 and any relevant rulings. Check the zoning of the property that it is an allowed zone for STVRs. If it is in a non-permitted zone, it can still be operated as a STVR if the current owner was operating it as an STVR prior to April 1, 2019, is in compliance with Hawaii State GET and TAT tax filings, and had applied for or received their non-conforming use certificate by September 28, 2019.

Here at Hale O' Honu'ea, we don't profess to be real estate or legal experts, so if you are looking at purchase it is best practice if you consult someone who is.

More information from the County of Hawaii Planning Department can be found on their website here:

New Law Regulating Big Island Vacation Rentals: UPDATE FEB 10, 2020
Short-Term Vacation Rentals
Bill 108, adopted by the Hawaiʻi County Council in November 2018 as Ordinance 2018-114, will regulate Short-Term Vacation Rentals (STVR) on Hawaii Island. The new law: 1) defines where the use will be allowed; 2) establishes provisions and standards to regulate this use; and 3) provides an avenue for an existing STVR to apply for a Nonconforming Use Certificate that would allow continued operation outside of a permitted zoning district.

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