Hawaii court to consider rental law restraining order

HONOLULU — A federal judge is expected to consider a restraining order seeking to stop Honolulu from enforcing a new vacation rental ordinance, officials said.

A U.S. District Court judge is scheduled to hear the case Aug. 15, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

The Hawaii Vacation Rental Owners Association, also known as the Kokua Coalition, said it reached a settlement agreement with the city allowing the council to continue 30-day rental agreements. The agreement was approval by a federal judge, officials said.

The ordinance that went into effect Thursday bans renting or advertising unpermitted short-term rental units outside a resort district. The law also increases fines for renting or advertising the units from $1,000 per day to a maximum of $10,000 per day.

House or apartment rentals for less than 30 days will remain illegal unless they are in designated hotel-resort areas or specifically approved under a nonconforming use certificate, Honolulu officials said.

The Kokua Coalition consists of members operating vacation rental properties where only one tenant has exclusive use for a 30-day period, even if the tenant does not use the unit for the full time.

The new ordinance appears to allow 30-day rentals, but a city Department of Planning and Permitting website specifically disallows it, said Greg Kugle, a Kokua Coalition attorney.

The website statement is a reversal from how the department has dealt with the Kokua Council, Kugle said.

The city has until Aug. 9 to file materials with the court and the Kokua Coalition has until Aug. 13 to reply.

Honolulu officials would not comment on the ongoing litigation.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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