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The problem with Airbnb in Hawaii
I wasn’t going to write a blog post about Airbnb in Hawaii, but I kept answering the same questions, so I thought it was time. So, what is the problem with Airbnb in Hawaii?
Well, honestly, there are a few problems. There is one problem that you might not care about (even though you should) and one that you definitely will care about.
The problem with Airbnb in Hawaii
First, there is a shortage of affordable housing in Hawaii. You might not think this affects you if you do not live in Hawaii, but it does. The lack of affordable housing is starting to cause problems with entry-level jobs in Hawaii.
For example, most people can’t afford to live working a lower-paying job, which is causing problems for those who live in Hawaii and tourists alike.
There are very high turnovers at employers like Wal-Mart, Target, etc., and sometimes even a shortage of workers.
This results in short staffing, long lines, and many other problems. If you think the housing cost doesn’t affect tourists, it does.
It affects tourism if people can’t afford to live there and work at places like Target or Starbucks. As of the writing of this blog post, there have been huge issues with this affecting the Kona area, but the problem has been around for a while.
This problem has become even worse after Hawaii’s shutdown in 2020. With so many people working remotely, Hawaii became a more viable option for many, and housing prices soared.
What does this have to do with Airbnb?
You might be wondering, what does Airbnb in Hawaii have to do with this problem? The short answer is that there is more money in short-term rentals than in long-term rentals.
So much of the housing that was, or could be used for locals is being used for short-term rentals (Airbnb, etc.), which are causing a shortage of rentals.
I always tell my clients that there are plenty of options beyond Airbnb; even resorts are condo-style if you prefer to be somewhere that is more like home.
But the prices…
One reason people choose Airbnb is the price, which is deceptive. $250 per night sounds like a good deal until you add on all the taxes, cleaning fees, etc., and then it ends up being the same price as anywhere else.
There are plenty of hotels, resorts, and condos that have similar pricing to Airbnb without the risk.
The second (big) problem with Airbnb in Hawaii
Yes, risk. Let’s talk about that now. The second reason why Airbnb in Hawaii can be a bad idea. Airbnb was recently ordered to share its top 1000 rentals with the state of Hawaii. Why? Because a lot of Airbnb owners do not pay taxes in Hawaii.
They could get away with this for a long time as the laws were pretty lax. However, the requirements are getting stricter every year.
This means more and more Airbnb rentals are closing down without any reason or warning. Either to be sold or to be converted to a different type of rental.
Having an Airbnb rented and then having it disappear happens, especially after the shutdowns. It will continue to happen as the laws get stricter and as Airbnb releases information to the state of Hawaii.
Even if you don’t care about affordable housing in Hawaii, you should care that your rental could disappear!
Sure, you should be able to get your money back (eventually), but you’ll be left without a rental.
The real problem with Airbnb in Hawaii
That isn’t even the biggest problem. Airbnb isn’t regulated in any way. If you have a problem, you have to deal with it through Airbnb; they aren’t necessarily on your side.
If you think your Travel Insurance covers Airbnb, you better check because not all of them do.
Just to be clear, I don’t hate Airbnb. Years ago, we used Airbnb in Hawaii, but now we don’t due to the uncertainty. I used Airbnb once after that in Florida, and it was a horrible experience (no shower!), but that is another story for another day.
If you do choose to use Airbnb in Hawaii, proceed with caution and make sure to choose a highly-rated host.
Airbnb Alternatives in Hawaii
I get it if you like Airbnb because you like staying in a condo! Luckily, plenty of resorts and hotels are regulated with condo-style accommodations. I book condo-style and villa accommodations for many clients through reputable sources, so contact me to learn more!
While it does operate in the same way as Airbnb and this problem #1 still exists, it’s still better than Airbnb due to being more reliable.
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- My best Hawaii travel tips
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- How to fight jet lag in Hawaii
- How to visit Hawaii on a budget
Airbnb in Hawaii
If you are set on using Airbnb, I understand. I love Airbnb rentals in other destinations, and I hope that the Airbnb issues in Hawaii will be resolved. Again, I’d recommend VRBO over Airbnb, even though I don’t recommend vacation rentals for many reasons, including housing problems.
If you choose to book a vacation rental, you have some recourse as Expedia owns VRBO.
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