AirBnB in Japan

AirbnB in Japan Close to Full Legalization: Details of Draft Law

By Jeff Wynkoop

The Japanese cabinet has just cleared the way for full legalization of Airbnb-style (minpaku, 民泊) private-stay accomodations in Japan.

Implementation in 2018

On March 10th, the Japanese Cabinet agreed to the contents of the draft law to be submitted to the Diet to legalize minpaku (Airbnb-style) private stay accommodations for all of Japan. The government plans to have the draft law passed in this year’s regular Diet session, with implementation in 2018.

With this step, the government is giving efforts to support the recent tourist boom and make progress in attaining its stated target of reaching 40 million visitors to Japan per year by 2020.

Current Status of Airbnb

Currently minpaku in Japan are only allowed in Osaka and in Ota-ku in Tokyo, or by special permission to operate as a ‘simple accommodation’ (簡易宿所) under the  Hotel Business Law. However, the ‘simple accommodation’ conditions of the Hotel Business Law are rather strict, and this has spawned many illegal minpaku operations around the country, with several thriving online websites dealing in short-term accommodations. A recent search of Airbnb Japan found over 48,000 listed properties.

One of the main purposes of the draft law is to give the Diet a way to authorize these existing illegal businesses.

Operation Up to 180 Days a Year with Notification

Under the proposed law contents, Airbnb-style accommodations may be operated for up to 180 days a year by submitting a notification to the municipal government.

However, critics complain that with the 180-day restriction, the government is trying to make it difficult to run a minpaku property as a non-resident, rental business.

Nevertheless, once the law is passed, generally any citizen will be allowed to operate a minpaku, and for the first time minpaku will be authorized in residential districts(住宅地域) where ‘simple accommodations’ under the Hotel Business Law are not allowed. Despite this opening up of the minpaku market, the government still has a long way to go to attain its 40 million tourists per year goal. Last year, the total number of visitors exceeded the 20 million mark for only the first time in history.

Local Authorities Can Limit

According to the draft law, local municipalities will be authorized to lower the 180 day a year limit, but only ‘as necessary to prevent deterioration of the living environment through noise etc.’ (騒音など生活環境の悪化を防止する目的に限り), and local municipalities may not ban minpaku outright.

Minpaku operators will be obliged to manage the property to take care of noise complaints from neighbors, as well as display a minpaku shield and obey certain public health laws.

Other Regulations

Websites such as Airbnb will be allowed to register as online minpaku dealers, but will need to display room fees and agent charges. Websites which violate the law will lose their registrations. In addition, minpaku businesses will be subject to inspection, and businesses unlicensed under the Hotel Business law which do not submit a minpaku notification can be fined by up to a maximum of 1 million JPY per incident, up from the current 30,000JPY.

  • Rachel Lim

    The law is protecting the Hotel operator and residents, not the travellers who might encounter dishonest host! I have recently rent a room via “Homeaway”, an online operator for overseas accommodation of Minpaku, they allowed the host to published nice photo of the room with nice scenary view, when i check in, i found the room is totally different from the property listed on Homeaway, i contacted the host but nothing is resolved.
    The host claimed that her room can sleep 5 persons, sent cleaner to clean for 2 times but all untrue, 3 of us actually has to squeeze into a very small room which is dirty & dusty. When i feedback to Homeaway, they claimed that it is not their obligation to remediate for me, and my complains has to reach them within 24 hours upon check in, otherwise they cant do anything. This is obviously infringement of rights, 1st their policy asked you to contact Host to allow Host to have chance to fix issues, by the time the host response slowly, Homeaway claimed that the golden 24 hours has passed which they cant do anything!?
    In short, to welcome more visitors to have accommodation, the law allow more rental rooms to be created but didnt bother the Dishonest issues of the Host, why would Japan spirit so different nowadays? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ad901dc3cd74127e0582be2da20cca0e0bc34d040910619a140878221ffd82f3.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bc7d03fc9ef85d27844430b41563211f9dab9ff15c86e7f83ee48bc3be7df03c.jpg

    • Mark

      Rachel what you wrote about dishonest host is nothing to do with the issues of regulations. In fact, you will have less more supply of apartments and less dishonest hosts once the goverment will officially regulate short term accommodation and make it possible to do so. Right now it isn’t.
      Unfortunately the Japanese goverment is playing to the hands of the big monopolies here in japan. For people who never lived or operated businesses in japan it will be hard to encapsulate what I am talking about. But japan is not a real democracy. The whole Japanese society is controlled by monopolies that the laws and regulations are created to help them vs the small business owner/entrepreneur.

      I am not talking only about real estates and hotels but everything.
      Telecom companies for example, there are only 3-4 providers and they all work together. Why do you think you can not get prepaid phone data SIM card in japan for more than 1 month as you an in any other country?
      The goverment is forcing all people who live in japan to make a plan/use one of those “3-4 companies” which are actually all under one umbrella.

      It’s goes far behind that. Japan is a very corrupted country who controlled by several big companies. Just that most locals are to blind to see that.

  • Ap Go

    This happened to me with Airbnb also. A property was iisted in Tokyo bay (unit 604, toyosu 5 chome 第一豐洲 Kōtō-ku, Tōkyō-to 135-0061) by a host called “oyster express”, which should not have been on Airbnb. When we got to the property we saw signs everywhere telling people that Airbnb is illegal and we should not stay there. We left immediately and had to book hotel rooms at the last minute.

    However, it has been a real nightmare trying to get back the amount we paid for this futile and illegal listing from the host and Airbnb. Not sure how to proceed with legal claims – any one knowledgable?

    • Mark

      Ap Go you are either very naive person OR an ass working for bldg management companies here in japan.
      The “signs displayed” in the Bldgs are not displayed their by legal
      Institution but by the very greedy bldg management company who in addition to managing residential complexes also owing and operating hotels. This absurd is a serious conflict of interest that somehow haven’t been address properly in japan because of strong hotel
      Lobbies in the goverment.
      This create a situation that there is not even one residential bldg in central Tokyo which officially “permit” to the apartment owners to lease out their apartments short term. Why? So that those bldg management companies who also own hotels will have no competition from Airbnb. You have played right into their hands.

      I hope someone in the Japanese government will wake up and stop those monopolies.

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