Court ruling chills illegal Kailua B&Bs
A judge cracks down on a vacation rental business in Lanikai
Operators of illegal vacation rentals beware.
A state judge has ordered a woman to stop using her Lanikai home as a bed-and-breakfast rental and rooming house, or she will force the woman to sell her house.
The order, from Circuit Judge Sabrina McKenna, came last month at the conclusion of a civil trial between two neighbors.
Susan Cummings sued Marlene Roth because the increased traffic to and from Roth's home invaded her security and peace and quiet.
"I've been living in hell in Lanikai. This has been an absolute nightmare," Cummings said.
Their two homes are on the same lot and share a common driveway on Kaiolena Drive. But because Cummings' home is in front, closer to the street, renters often go to her home assuming it is the vacation rental.
Roth has also been using Cummings' address instead of her own, so mail and deliveries intended for Roth often wind up at Cummings' home.
Cummings tried to get the city to stop Roth from operating a bed-and-breakfast in her home, but the renters were never around when inspectors showed up.
And Roth was able to win a three-year restraining order against Cummings because she claimed Cummings harassed one of her long-term tenants.
So, two years ago, Cummings sued Roth not just over the illegal operation of a vacation rental, but also because their property rules prohibit the use of the homes as rooming houses.
The two homes are classified as condominiums and are subject to condominium rules and bylaws.
In September 2004, McKenna issued an order prohibiting Roth from operating a bed-and-breakfast at her home. McKenna later discovered Roth continued to operate her bed-and-breakfast and even had customers during the trial.
And when confronted, Roth lied about it to McKenna and even tried to get others to lie about it in court.
McKenna estimates Roth has taken in hundreds if not thousands of bed-and-breakfast boarders since 2003. During that time, Roth said in court, she has not paid any income, general excise or transient accommodations taxes on the money she has earned from her rentals.
Roth has also racked up $21,000 in fines from the city Department of Planning and Permitting.
Messages left on Roth's home telephone were not returned.
Since June, fines have increased to $1,000 per day of violation from $50 per day. And the city can also place a lien on the property for the fine amount.
Don Bremner of Keep It Kailua said word of Cummings' lawsuit and the city's tougher enforcement of illegal vacation rentals have bed-and-breakfast operators on the run.
He said of the roughly 90 illegal bed-and-breakfast rental properties in Kailua, 14 are now for sale -- two of them are in Lanikai -- and others have stopped operating.