Although these words are often used interchangeably, there is a difference:

  • Bed & Breakfasts require the owners to live in at the property whose rooms they rent out;
  • Vacation Rentals (TVUs or IVUs) do not require owners to live there – they are only supposed to be allowed in resort districts such as Ko Olina, Turtle Bay or Waikiki.
  • Airbnb is a company that allows anyone who owns or rents property to rent out a property, a room or even just a couch to a transient vacationer.  They are largely illegal and unregulated.

Vacation rentals have been controversial.  On one hand, they act as an additional source of income which helps subsidize housing on Oahu that they otherwise cannot afford.  Rentals also provide income supplements to residents who are struggling with the high cost of living.  On the other hand, vacation rentals compete with the hotel industry, and they do not provide anywhere near the scale or quality of jobs that hotels provide.  Many are managed and cleaned by the property owner.  Others are cleaned by cut-rate, low-wage cleaning services. 

The supply of vacation rentals is increasing nationwide because of Airbnb and other services that make it easier for people to rent out rooms to transient guests.  There are several problems with this:

  • Affordable housing: the more units are purchased or rented out for use as vacation rentals, the more pressure is placed on the housing supply.  There is already a significant lack of affordable housing on Oahu, and not enough is being done to address it.  Vacation rentals create an additional demand for development which is unaffordable and has very limited benefits for area residents.
  • Public safety: Airbnb and other vacation rental services are often done in an unpermitted, illegal way.  They are not properly regulated, staff (if any) are not properly trained in how to handle an emergency and may be ill-equipped to do so.
  • Taxes: The City and the State lose money on every vacation rental operating illegally.
  • Regulatory issues: Airbnb locations operating in rental apartments without the knowledge of landlords could mean landlords have to incur fines caused by the actions of their tenants.  Tenants could be violating their leases.  Both could be violating zoning laws.
  • Nuisance: Residents at nearby homes do not want transient guests coming and going every day.

Residents are witnessing the development of over a dozen luxury condominium buildings in Kaka’ako and the development of other major housing projects in Turtle Bay, Ho’opili, Koa Ridge and Ocean Pointe which are largely out of reach to most working people.  To the extent they are used as vacation rentals, they hurt local residents both in terms of local jobs lost and housing not used for residents.

  • No B&B permits have been issued since 1989, but B&Bs operating at that time were grandfathered in.
  • There are currently over 1200 listings of Airbnb sites on Oahu.