Property managers and owners sue Honolulu County over Bill 41
The Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance (HILSTRA) filed a federal trial against the City and County of Honolulu, the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP), and DPP Director Dean Uchida in response to the county’s recently passed Bill 41.
In April, the Honolulu City Council passed Bill 41 (Order 22-7), a measure that effectively bans vacation rentals on the island of Oahu by changing the definition of a short-term rental from 30 to 90 days and banning both whole-home rentals (known as transient vacation units) and properties in which the owner lives on site outside of certain resort areas, except those with non-conforming certificates of use issued in the 1980s.
from HILSTRA stand states that the county made “unlawful changes to the land use ordinance by changing the definition of a 30-day to 90-day transient vacation unit without creating any protections for owners’ continued lawful use of their property”.
The statement states:
The Hawaiian and federal constitutions protect a pre-existing legal use as a vested right of ownership, which means it cannot be taken away without due process. Specifically, HRS Article 46-4(a) prohibits counties from using their zoning powers to pass ordinances that prohibit “continued lawful use” of a purpose for which the property was being used when the ordinance was passed.
Bill 41 may also be unconstitutional under Section 20 of Hawaii’s Constitution, which prohibits “damage” to the value and use of property without just compensation. Bill 41 enacts a virtual ban on rental accommodations offering stays between 30 and 90 days – a use of property that is currently permitted as of right in all areas.
“This law not only effectively removes a pre-existing lawful use by property owners across Oahu, but it also sets a dangerous precedent for property rights legislation on other Hawaiian islands and across the country,” said Andreea Grigore, president of HILSTRA and CEO of Elite Pacific Vacations. “The 22-7 order harms landlords, property managers, concierges, travel agents, chefs, housekeepers, the entire ecosystem surrounding vacation rentals, and thousands of homeowners. small businesses that depend on tourism for part of their business. Everyone must come together and support this legal action to ensure the protection of pre-existing lawful uses both on Oahu and elsewhere.
HILSTRA attorney Greg Kugle of Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert successfully argued to protect these rights before following the passage of Bill 89 (Ordinance 19-18) in 2019, which, among other provisions, would required minimum stays of 30 days. In what is called the Kokua Clausethe court agreed that the way the bill was written, operators were allowed to rent a maximum of once in 30 days, but guests were not required to occupy the property for 30 days.
Visit hilstra.org/donate to find out how to contribute financially to legal efforts. HILSTRA shares public updates on its Facebook page and a public FAQ and answers questions about the lawsuit via [email protected].
Photo courtesy Jeremy Bezanger