What to expect from the new home-sharing rules in Japan, and Airbnb's policy change
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
If there's something strange in your neighborhood, what are you gonna check? The new Minpaku law!
In three days, on June 15th, the new law about home-sharing will take effect in Japan. What are the contents and the consequences of this measure for the visitors in Japan using home-sharing systems such as Airbnb Inc.?
Actually, even though Airbnb's activities are said to be in a "grey zone", Japan has a very similar tradition of short-term rooms to be rent in private houses called 民宿 (minshuku, home-stay). Minshuku lodging requires the home-owner to apply for a licence and comply to a set of defined rules (security, minimum size...).
Yet, Airbnb did not comply to this rules and was, in a certain way, seen as an illegal activity. Adding to this a long trail of complaints from Airbnb's owners neighborhoods, such as noise, incivilities, wrong garbage disposal and other nuisances. Some residential building management offices have been to the extent of banning the registration of Airbnb or other home-sharing services.
With the 2020 Olympics coming closer and the tourist related numbers constantly booming, new rules to improve the foreign tourists arrival and prevent a lodging shortage needed to be implemented.
The new law, officially 住宅宿泊事業法 (jyutaku shukuhaku jigyou hou, Law on the home-staying activities) or otherwise called Minpaku Law, is supposed to lower the legal constraints for short-term renting, suppressing the limitations on room size and reception management. As a counterpart for this arrangement, a 180 days limit for home-sharing, owner's mental-heath check, safety check, and the obligation for home-owners to register their proprieties with the land Ministry.
It opens the room for local governments to implement further restrictions.
For example, Tokyo's Chuo district has an additional interdiction of week-day renting; seasonal restrictions in Kyoto let the accommodations be available only in January and February. This may cause some confusions, as the rules may vary drastically depending on the area.
As a consequence to this new law, coming to effect in only three days, on June 15th, Airbnb listings had been severely hit. On the 62,000 proprieties offered earlier this year on the site, only 150 had been already approved by the ministry... a situation that have a direct impact on tourists, risking to reach Japan without any alternative solution planned beforehand.
At the moment, thousands of reservation have already been cancelled.
Is Japan government killing the golden goose, or is it clearing the way for a fair, transparent business for the years ahead? Future will tell.
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