AirBnB in Japan

Japan Releases Details of New Law on AirBnB-Style Rentals

By Jeff Wynkoop

The Japanese government has finally released details of the new Minpaku (民泊) Law it plans to submit to the regular session of the Diet sometime in 2017. The main purpose of the law is to provide a legal basis for the Airbnb-style private room renting that has been popping up all over Japan the last few years.

Please see the most up-to-date status of Airbnb in Japan here:

Japan Legalizes Airbnb in Japan: Diet Passes Law (June 9, 2017)

Airbnb in Japan close to full legalization: Details of draft law (March 11, 2017)

Current Legal Status of AirBnB-Style Rentals

Currently Airbnb-style businesses are illegal since renting out a room to the general public in a continuous fashion is considered to be a breach of the Japanese Hotel Business Law (ryokangyouhou or “Hotel Law”). That is, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, the Japanese ministry which enforces the Hotel Law, requires such business to get a license prior to beginning operations, however Hotel Law regulations are very strict and often times impractical to satisfy for private citizens wanting to rent out a room.

In the alternative, it is possible for Airbnb-style operations to be set up legally in one of the special economic zones designated around the country, provided the economic zone has also already passed a special Minpaku enforcement ordinance (such as in Osaka City and in Ota-ku in Tokyo), but these ordinances require guests to stay a minimum of 7 nights.

For changes to the law since this article was posted, please see: Government to Lower Restrictions on AirBnB-Style Rentals in Japan, posted on August 8, 2016.

Real Estate Zoning Law Restrictions

To loosen the Hotel Law restrictions, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare has already enacted amendments this year to make it easier for small operators to qualify for a license (and be allowed to have guests stay less than 7 nights), but the main hurdle for private citizens is that there are real estate zoning law restrictions to such licenses (i.e., they may not be issued to operators located in private residential zones, only to operators in areas zoned for business).

New Law Will Require Outside Management of AirBnB-Style Operations

The main thrust of the new law is to require Airbnb-style operators have a contract with an outside management company which is a registered Minpaku business.

The “management company” under the new law is intended to refer to licensed real estate business operators and/or licensed hotel businesses which regularly provide leasing and/or real estate administrative services to private citizens and other companies dealing with the general public.

Such management companies will be obliged under the new law to perform background checks of guests, take care of complaints from neighbors, manage keys for the operator, take out casualty insurance, make sure building garbage rules are complied with, etc.

Under the new law, operators will be allowed to have guests stay for even just one night, and there are no zoning law restrictions. Accordingly, the government expects the new law will further stimulate regular citizens entering into agreements with private real estate management firms.

By: Jeff Wynkoop

Source: Nikkei Shinbun, March 15, 2016

Top photo: House in Osaka

For changes to the law since this article was posted, please see: Government to Lower Restrictions on AirBnB-Style Rentals in Japan, posted on August 8, 2016.

You may also be interested in: National Framework for AirBnB-Style Rentals Coming to Japan and Osaka Enacts Ordinance to Open Up AirBnB-Style Rentals

Photo Credit: m-louis .® via Flickr
  • Seadaddy66

    Huh, interesting, i would think about staying all over Japan if i could stay at AIRBNBs, which would make my trip much more affordardable than if i had to stay at hotels.

    • 3ddie

      I’ve done that, I stayed in many AirBnB’s all over JP, most were great, it’s great to know local people and it was my favorite experience.
      This is really a deterrent for tourism.

  • Milton D Beattie

    So basically SCREW the regular citizen and their rights unless they give all their profit and chance to make it to BIG BUSINESS!!!

    EVIL!!!!

    • Mark

      For sure, Japan is not a real democracy. It never was!
      The Japanese system works in a way that theoretically encourage small businesses and entrepreneurship but in reality the bureaucracy and regulations make it IMPOSSIBLE for the average citizen to succeed. In the past Japan was controlled by Samurai clans, who although were greatly admired, took advantage over the average citizens, farmers , fishermen, ect…
      Those clans -in particular the leaders- were enjoying Kings life style while the average citizens farmers were very poor and were still requested to always fulfil the needs of the clans.
      Today? Nothing really changed! Just that instead of Samurai clans Japan is controlled by large corporations such as MITSUI which will literally help create the laws which will always work in their own favour.
      The Japanese system works in a way that does not encourage their citizen to think on their own. People are encouraged to follow the society and never be the “nail who stick out”. People are not encouraged to dream big, they are encouraged to dream whats suits for “society” (which is really whatever suits for the 5% who control this country). In the west, school encourage students to think on their own and challenge what they learn. Even challenge the teacher. In Japan it is unheard of that the student will ever challenge the teacher. Whatever the teacher teach you is equal to whatever god himself will teach you. It is not questionable. This is why Japanese people are luck of creativity, they never think out of the box, they never think on their own. They will think whatever society will encourage them to think. They been trained this way all their life. This is why even that Japan as a country is very rich, the average Japanese person live in very poor western standards. Small apartments, crowded trains, cheap obento, long working hours etc… The “monarchy” created this situation and trained people from the age of 0 never to question it. Always to accept things as they are. This is why this “monarchy” doesn’t like forigners because they may show the light to their average citizens and that is not what they want. Japan is offcially democracy, they have to because it was part of their sorrounder agreement with the US. But In reality Japanese thinking is closer to North Korea. Blind obedience of the law without-ever questioning it.

  • HvacNews

    Protecting neighborhoods from people ignorant of things like proper waste management.

  • PeterParkour

    I have done Airbnb in Japan ever since people started putting their property on the site. It is essentially one of the best ways to live in Japan. The constraints of hotels and even hostels have put me off from wanting to go that route these days.

  • Román D. Sanz

    Milton, since when regular citizens has rights in Japan?
    😉

  • Mark

    IT IS REDICOULES HOW CORRUPTED THE SYSTEM IN THIS COUNTRY!
    The new regulations only meant to serve Big organisations, Real Estate and property management companies. Airbnb was originally meant for the average person to be able to rent out his apartment for few extra buck and at the same time make traveler feel at home. But in Japan, the big companies, can not see anyone makes money other than themselves.

    A friend of my purchased an apartment in Minato ku- mainly for purpose of being able to rent it out, short and long term. As soon as he and several more apartment owners started to operate airbnb, the Property Management company MITSUI FUDOSAN, sent letters to all citizen of the building encouraging them to vote against short term stay in this particular building (even in case that the local council will approve it for the area in the future). Claiming the typical thing which will scare all Japanese people…. for “security reasons”.
    This company is taking advantage of its power as a Property Management and the ignorance and fear of the average person in order to create rules and regulations in their own favour.
    Here are several reasons why those sort of “voting” should be illegal:

    1- To start with, 95% percent of the votes somehow always going in the Property Management suggestions. There are many reason for that * many citizens not feeling comfortable voting against, * they may only hear one side of the story and will not realise that it may not work really work in their favour as apartment owners, *Many of the apartment owners never even get to see those voting notes and without their voting there is automatically postive vote in their name for the Property management suggestions.

    2- Those so called *Property management” companies has serious conflict of interest. Take Mitsui Fudosan for example, Mitsui Fudosan is linked to Mitusi Hotels companies, the company running hotels! AIRBNB is direct competitor to hotels so off course the company will discourage airbnb.
    Moreover, in the particular example I specified above, Mitusi is operating in the next building short term serviced apartments rentals. How is it possible for them to call for votes against airbnb operations while they themselves operating something similar in the next building (shared lobby!)??

    Recently I have heard something really horrible!
    Property Management companies “pushing out” of their managing building airbnb operators, and then few months later, a linked company to this same property management company is operating airbnb out of the exactly same units! Basically the property management are pushing people out and then take over those apartments (probably encourage the owners to rent directly to them instead of this “person who break the building laws”) for there exact same purpose.
    IF THIS IS NOT CORRUPTED SO WHAT IS?

    I wonder when / if ever the average citizen will fight back for their rights versus those gigantic corporations which literally controlling every piece of this country.

    • Sh*t up already ! You probably sub-let your flat to some Chinese and don’t pay tax at the end of the year.
      It was only to be expected that a crackdown would come.

      • Mark

        It’s funny that a guy that disguise himself as “Mr Chu” mind the Chinese so much. Just say that you are Japanese property management ass hole that realized that the good old days of taken advantage of the common Japanese people are coming to an end.
        I really hope that the government will realized how corrupted you guys are. And if they will not, the rest of the world will.

        Go fuck
        Yourself!

        • Marky boy is starting a revolution here…
          Yeah !

          • Mark

            Me and 1,000 others. This is the end of your regime!

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  • Mark James Hill

    so real estate companies and large hotels win out again- its racketeering and a monopoly which s how all sectors of Japanese business runs. there are cartels like entertainment, electronics, car manufacturing etc. I understand regulation but fuck you. if I want to rent a room out in my house that I own fuck off! im going to do it. get a fucking warrant. its private property. If i am renting an apartment well thats a different matter all together.

  • Mark James Hill

    I wonder if AirBNB has lawyers to deal with this sort of BS.

  • Mark James Hill

    hotels you have to pay per person. AirBNB gives you a whole apartment or house and some pet friendly for the price of 1 persons stay.

  • cubix626

    As an avid user of Airbnb travelling both overseas and in Japan, I can understand the frustrations that the people here describe regarding the vacation rental (minpaku) laws in Japan. However, now that I have worked for over 3 months at a management company that uses Airbnb, I ask the angry foreigners here to reconsider. To be honest the amount of people who host on Airbnb and other sites like HomeStay almost almost definitely get away with not getting a license from the hotel law restrictions. Mostly the claims come from the neighborhood, from everyday people living in the same building or nearby. Also it is not mentioned in this article, but there ARE websites that help you apply for a license so you can host as individual without being in a special economic zone. Mainly the license consists of very important safety checks from the fire department, and a one time fee, usually around 20,000 yen. It is ridiculous to see generalized baseless accusations against Japanese society or the government, such as big businesses first, when clearly SMEs make up over 90% of all Japanese companies. Also please don’t put real estate companies and hotels and such together. 99% of the time, owners of houses contact us and sign with us to help rent their homes out on Airbnb, so essentially these houses are still owned by individuals.

    • Mark

      Cubix I don’t know what is your employer selling you but you are very wrong. 95% of the complains against Airbnb in japan do not start from the tenants living in the neighborhoods. They start with the bldg management “educating” the tenants and encouraging them to complain and vote against it for “their own benefits” I know that because I am an owner of an apartment managed by Mitsui Fudosan and 2 months after we purchased the property we already received a letter encouraging us and the rest of the owners to vote against it, claiming that it will cause “disturbance for the neighborhood” and “potential security issues”.
      The license you are talking about is not that simple to get and it is still not clear if it is possible to get this license when your own bldg regulations are against it.
      As in regards to owners asking real estates to manage their Airbnb apartments. This is in fact part of the problem. Real estate agents should be forbidden by law to do Airbnb for their tenants. This is not the purpose of the sharing economy.
      This way they are blocking apartments from being offered to the general market. A friend of my used to rent apartment in australia and do sub let -with owner consent-when going on business trips overseas. This is good utilization of the apartment, this is sharing economy. However, in japan, there is no chance that someone can get owner consent through real estate agent because the real estate will block him from even making an offer to the owner. Real estate companies such as your own are taking advantage of their position to control the Airbnb market. They will never introduce a potential tenant to apartment owner if the tenant indicates in advance that he want sub let permission. Because they will want to take every Airbnb style apartment and run it themselves. There are serious conflicts of interest in here.
      i will never let real estate in japan manage my apartment on the prinicipal of how greedy and unfair they are.

      What is even more upsetting is that in many cases bldg managements are pushing out rental tenants who occasionally sub letting their apartments when not using it and after that they are taking over the apartments themselves and getting owner consent for themselves to do Airbnb style.

      But this issues will not continue forever. At the end the government will realize the problem and will act against those Bldg managements Maria.

    • Mark

      That is bull crap.
      First of all, those so called websites that you mentioned which help you to apply for airbnb licenses request of you approval from your bldg management. But guess what? unless you are a Real Estate company with connection to the bldg management company, those bldg managements will never give you this approval. They will claim that they are protecting the other tenants in the bldg. In reality they are either protecting the hotel industry (many bldg managements in Japan are directly or indirectly related to hotel and service apartment companies) OR the Real estate companies (which in many cases it is themselves or their friends).

      Real estate companies in Japan are very greedy! Airbnb was not meant for you guys!!!
      It was meant for individual apartment owners and tenants -who has permission from apartment owners- to do subleasing from time to time. That how it operate world wide!
      As an apartment owner, why do I need to pay you 20- 25% of my income to run the airbnb for me when I can run it myself?
      Probably I can run it much better than you anyway because I know my apartment and the surrounding better and I actually also understand travelers needs better than most local Real Estate companies do..
      Owners should not be approaching Real Estate companies to run their airbnb, if they cant communicate in english and dont want to do it themselves so it is much better for them to do share hosting and let another airbnb host do it for them for very low fee. Or they should rent out their apartment long term for a premium price and give permission to their tenant to do subleasing. But Real estate companies in Japan will never help either the owner or the potential tenant to ave such an agreement. They will not even pass the requests.
      This is another problem in this country. Owners and tenants never have direct communication. Everything is done through greedy Real Estate companies who operate in their own self interest.

      As for your claim that small and Medium size business make up over 90% of all Japanese companies. That may be truth but those small – medium business only make 5% of total companies revenue so? the power is only in the big organization hands.

      In additional, most of those mid size businesses are actually child companies of the big corporations. So it is not relevant.

      • fbf3212924

        Excuse me for not being clear, but I’m not talking about subleasing, but actually owners renting out their property. For example you are talking about getting approval from management, but what I’m saying is that the actual real estate management companies as the ones running the Airbnb. Most of the complaints I’ve had are from neighbors, not other tenants, though full sized houses and not apartments are a non-issue.

        As you probably already know, many there is a big moving season in Japan, and trying to find tenants outside that time is extremely difficult. So instead of leaving the property empty and waiting for the moving season, it makes more sense to rent out the property on websites like Airbnb.

        (I quit the minpaku job already) but generally what I was doing was essentially share hosting! Working with owners to set up the page and doing customer service with guests, making the hurdle of trying out Airbnb and other services much lower.

        I argue about know the area and stuff, because that was my job, I worked with multiple owners and constantly other information and about tourism in the region. A local owner who only has one property vs someone who helps manage a multitude of other properties. Of course I would gain more experience and exposure.

        Lets not be subjective on “greedy” real estate companies, the service we offered was essentially a way for people who want to rent out their properties but did not have the time or ability to do so. For sure renting and managing it yourself lets you gain more profit and imo is more rewarding in being able to meet new travelers or people, but it simply isn’t possible for everyone.

        Though hell yeah the big real estate companies are a huge pain in the ass. Of course theres no way you can do Airbnb through those guys. Yes, they take more of the market share, but the small companies are the ones that know the area better imo.

        Most small real estate companies are small and independent, the hurdle to become one is extremely low, there are people who do it on an individual level.

        • Mark

          Owner or sublease tenant is not the main point. In Japan, even if you are the owner, you can not get airbnb/mipaku license if your bldg management does not permit it. And they will never permit it because most of them have self agenda. They are either involve in the hotel/service apartment industry or involve in the Real Estate industry and want to manage it themselves. Even if you are the owner, the Bldg management want you to rent out your apartment in the traditional way through a real estate agent because in many cases those Bldg managements are also real estate agents themselves and they don’t like that the owner are renting out their apartments directly. They want piece of the pie.
          (FYI; In most countries it is illegal for bldg management to also be Real Estate agent because of this type of conflict of interest)

          In any other country (at least all those I am familiar with) as an apartment owner you may have some legal restrictions on short term rentals (certain number of days per year or minimum 1 month stay) but those are government laws. No bldg management can EVER dictate you not to rent out your own apartment short term because those are “bldg rules”. It is either legal OR illegal by law, not legal as long as you get permission from bldg managements. This is a jock!

          In Japan, bldg managements are having way too much power.
          I have PURCHASED an apartment couple of years ago. Since me and my family spending about 3 months a year overseas, my idea was that when I am overseas I can rent out my apartment on airbnb and cover most of our trip expenses. I didn’t even plan to do it very short term, I was actually looking for 1 month rental (which is actually allowed by law even without special permission). Well guess what? 3 months after we have purchased the apartment, before I have ever rented out my apartment, the bldg management initiated tenants vote against short term rental.
          Claiming it “cause damage to the bldg”, “Noise” and “risk of terror”. Off course 90% of the tenants supported this new bldg rules initiated by bldg management because most Japanese people who are not business minded just follow blindly whatever is dictated and recommended to them by big organization (and also because most of them may not have the same idea in mind as myself, renting out their place while going overseas for few months).

          In anyway, not only that this “bldg rule” does not permit short term rental (daily, weekly) it actually request of you to rent out your apartment for a minimum period of 1 year and it must be through an agency!!
          What a coincidence that the same Bldg Management company (Mitsui Fudosan) is also the real estate agent for 95% of apartments in this bldg.
          I want to through up.

          As for what you have mentioned. Small real estate agents are less my problem. But still, if you as a real estate agent also operate aribnb on behalf of your clients, it can cause serious conflict of interest.

          If some potential tenant will go to your office and will tell you; I am interested to rent an apartment in Roppongi and willing to pay 20% higher fee than the requested price as long as it allow subleasing. Will you even pass this request to owners?
          No you will not, because if owners allow subleasing so you will prefer to offer your own services. But actually for the owner it is better to sign a long term contract for 20% premium fee rather than let you manage for him airbnb and pay him percentage from the income.
          As an apartment owner, I would much prefer to rent out my apartment for someone long term and let him do subleasing then to let you manage the apartment for me and pay me uncertain income which depend on the month.
          Especially if the tenant is wiling to offer me some premium fee for this permission.

          There is no problem with small real estate agents offering their own airbnb services as long as they truly protecting their clients agendas as well.

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  • Distant Calm

    This is bullshit. They have just pretty much made it impossible to run a business on Airbnb. The Japanese government is fucking crooked. Classic Japanese business style all the different layers want cuts for doing nothing. Fuck Japan. Time to leave.