Some Hawaii visitors stranded because of potential vacation rental cancellations
A new law that hopes to enforce illegal vacation rentals is causing a headache for some.
"I paid half a deposit because that was something I got nervous about, I'm not paying a full until I know for sure this is an okay place," Toni Jenschke, a North Carolina resident, said.
Jenschke is coming to Hawaii for the first time next month. She put down a $400 deposit for her Airbnb in Waikiki. Now she's not sure if she has a place to stay when she gets here because the unit might be outside of the city permitted areas.
"I don't know what I should be doing. I don't wanna get an email a week out saying you don't have a place to stay and I'm coming from North Carolina," Jenschke said.
It's legal to have a short term rental unit in city approved rental zones in areas like Waikiki, Kahala, Makaha and Laie. It's possible the owner of Jenschke's vacation rental will get a permit. Property owners can apply for a permit to operate outside of resort areas but there's a limit on how many new bed and breakfasts can get that because of the new law.
"I think it's real bad for tourism because it puts a bad taste in the tourist's mouth and it shows we don't have aloha for these people who are now stranded," Bruce Fisher, Hawaii Aloha Travel, said.
Fisher is a travel agent and customers have been calling him for help since the new law went into effect.
"More attention should've been paid when they did this rule and passed this law so people who already have reservations on the books to just make an Arbitrary cut off date and not consider all these vacationers who are coming to Hawaii that now have no place to stay," he said.
If you have a vacation rental booking, Airbnb advises you to double check the reservation. If the owner cancels the rental, you should get a full refund automatically. Before booking? See if the property's is legal on the city's Short Term Rentals web page. The city identified about 5,000 potential violators last month and sent warning letters to those vacation rental owners.