Welcome to the website of Rental by Owner Awareness Association
We are a Hawaii non-profit organization of property owners who have banded together to educate the public, property owners, and the legislature about "rental by owner" and to protect the rights of property owners. Our officers and committee members serve on a volunteer basis.
On our website, you will find a wealth of information that will help you to understand what we do and the issues that are important for owners to understand.
We invite you to participate with us and volunteer your time to assist us in the many activities in which we are engaged to protect the rights of property owners. Your annual membership fees and donations allow us to carry on our activities, to hire attorneys to advise us and to hire lobbyists to represent us to the Hawaiian legislature.
Please consider joining us or renewing your membership now.
Property ownership in the Hawaiian Islands
Compliance with state and county laws including taxation collection and remittance and county bylaws.
The cost for membership is $100.00 annually
Update on the 2016 Hawaii Legislative Session
This session saw the introduction of a number of bills that would have revisited some of the issues that eventually lead to the passage of Act 204 in 2015. See the details below in the "The 2015 Hawaiian Legislative Session." None of them gained any traction and we believe that legislators are waiting to see how Act 204 plays out.
However, there continue to be numerous proposals floating around which would significantly and negatively impact the way we do things. The most onerous which comes up often is one we have seen implemented in other parts of the country; it is to make us into a regulated industry. This would require each of us to get a license from the state and/or the county, meet whatever criteria was set out (annual financial audits, surprise inspections, health and safety requirements, use of real estate agents, hiring only unionized cleaners), pay annual fees, etc. Being a regulated industry would also give the Dept. of Consumer Affairs in Hawaii the right to revoke your license at will – meaning, one day you could be legitimate and the next day you would have to cancel all your bookings. Yes, this is a worst case scenario, but it is not an improbable scenario. So, for RBOAA, the “AirBnB” bill , discussed below under Advertising Platforms as Tax Collection Agents, was a compromise that we could live with.
Status of Bills – as of May 4, 2016
Zoning. SB2123 / HB1573. The bill would have allowed counties to eliminate nonconforming (i.e. non-permitted) single-family transient vacation rental units in any zoning classification. The counties supported this and we believe the counties intended to make all single family homes “non-conforming”. RBOAA opposed these bills as they violate property owners’ constitutional rights to use their property and because the bills did not provide for any compensation to owners. This bill made it further in 2016 than it did in any previous year, but ultimately, it was defeated.
Advertising Platforms as Tax Collection Agents. HB1850. This bill was put forward by AirBnB to ratify an agreement tentatively signed between AirBnB and the State of Hawaii. This bill attracted lots of passionate correspondence. Groups opposed to vacation rentals of any size, shape or location, owners opposed to AirBnB and VRBO, unions seeking job security for their members, counties seeking assistance in enforcing their own bylaws and some members of RBOAA all wrote to the legislators to voice their opposition to this bill. It was alleged that RBOAA partnered with AirBnB on this bill -- an allegation that was and is false.
The primary intent of this bill was to assist the state in the collection of taxes and for that reason, RBOAA initially supported it and suggested amendments. As the bill progressed, the bill became impractical and we withdrew our support but still proposed amendments to protect our members. The most important amendment RBOAA asked for in every testimony submitted was to eliminate the confidentiality clause which would allow unpermitted operators to hide behind the AirBnB license. It took until the end, but in the final version of the bill, the State was given the ability to see who was advertising with AirBnB and how much revenue they earned. The legislators have added clauses which would require all owners to attest to their tax collection agent that they are in compliance with county land use laws.
The bill isn’t perfect, but it is good for us. It levels the playing field on 2 fronts. Front #1: Some owners, (anecdotally- especially those on Airbnb), do not pay taxes. This means you are competing against properties offering a 13.5% discount on every rental. Front #2: In our overall fight for legitimacy and the right to rent short-term, we can stop the argument that TVRs don’t pay taxes.
What does this mean to you? If you are with an advertising platform that signs on to this program, they will collect and remit GET and TAT on your behalf. You would be responsible for GET and TAT on any bookings you do outside of that platform.
Do I give up control? You don’t have any control over collecting and remitting taxes now – you have to do it! AirBnB becomes the taxpayer under this bill, so any errors become their problem.
What is the cost? AirBnB has repeatedly told me there is no cost to the owner. The State is paying AirBnB to collect taxes on their behalf.
As of this update, the bill passed both Houses, although the votes were close. It must still be signed by the governor. We will need to watch for any amendments to this bill in the future.
Tax Rates. At the time of this update, it appears that all bills to increase the TAT and GET rates failed.
The 2015 Hawaii Legislative Session. SB519 SD2 HD3 CD1 (“SB519”) is now Act 204
In January, we faced almost a dozen bills which could have impacted our transient vacation rentals. In the end, only one survived -- SB519 – which became Act 204. On July 2, 2015 Governor Ige signed SB519 into law and is now known as Act 204. Generally, this bill covers Local Contacts, Advertising and Tax Compliance for Transient Rentals. The latest version of the bill was posted on the legislative website Saturday, May 2, 2015 and can be accessed through this link: SB519 CD1.htm
This is a very good outcome for RBOAA members and all those who own or own and operate rental accommodations in Hawaii. There is no doubt that we would be in a very different place, and a very disadvantageous place, had it not been for all the efforts of the RBOAA membership. We banded together and made strong, passionate and logical arguments to the Legislators.
Please note that this bill replaced Act 326 which ceased to have force on December 31, 2015. SB519/Act 204 carried forward indefinitely within the Transient Accommodations Tax Act certain key provisions of Act 326.
The following is an email sent to all Hawaiian Senators and Representatives offering to work together to resolve the challenges posed by TVR and the unsubstantiated claims being made:
Dear Hawaii Senators and State Representatives:
I’m writing to you in the hope that we might work together to put in place a consistent, effective approach to the state’s array of accommodation offerings including owner-operated transient accommodations and agency-managed transient accommodations.
This legislative session — and the four legislative sessions prior — have witnessed a number of bills introduced that offer widely disparate statements as to the definition, quantity, and legality of these types of transient accommodations. Whether the description is Individual Visitor Units (IVUs), Individually Advertised Units (IAUs), Transient Vacation Rentals (TVRs), or Transient Vacation Units (TVUs), we do not believe that Hawaii wishes to put an end to this type of accommodation, nor do we believe Hawaii wants to send a message that such options are to be denied to consumers. But the attacks on this popular vacation option has seen Hawaii legislators criticized for advancing bills that create monopolies for hotels or property managers.