A new Japanese law is going into effect that will effect minpaku, which are private residences rented out as short-term lodging. Basically, it’ll change your Airbnb plans if you’re planning a trip to Japan.
On the surface, the June 15th law looks great for renters. The law disbands designated districts (this won’t interfere with local restrictions), does away with room size limitations, and removes the two-night minimum-stay rule. Condominiums will also be opened to minpaku renters, provided individual associations don’t vote for a ban.
It looks like a great plan to open up more minpaku properties to take advantage of Japan’s tourism boon. Last year, 28 million foreign tourists visited Japan and many of them used Airbnb as a cheaper alternative to hotels. However, the new minpaku law may harm this.
While the law lessens the restrictions on minpaku properties, it adds pricey burdens to hosts. In Osaka, two-thirds of Airbnb hosts are non-Japanese who don’t live in the country. Under the new law, they are required to hire a management company, which could take as much as 70% of the rental fees. In fact, Japanese hosts that don’t live in their Airbnb property will also have to hire a management company. Many sublet apartments will no longer be allowed on Airbnb without the landlord’s permission.
Compounding the issue is that a single room can’t be rented out more than 180 times a year, which hurts properties at popular tourist spots. However, local governments can add restrictions that lower the quota. For example, Japan’s Chou ward restricts rooms to 100 rentals a year and Ota ward completely bans overnight stays in residential zones.
Other wards have added personnel restrictions. The popular Taito ward requires properties to have a front-desk, which effectively bans homes and sublet apartments from being listed on Airbnb. Kyoto prefecture requires hosts to have managers or staff within 800 meters of the property. Any violation will result in a 1 million yen ($9,100) fine.
News of the requirements has caused Airbnb hosts to cancel reservations en mass since their properties are no longer legal under the new law. Some tourists have vocally voiced their concern about their future rentals being canceled.
The new law is going to put a clamp down on the Airbnb industry for the short-term, but it’s happening during one of the peak travel seasons. Travelers are going to have to scramble to book rooms at a premium at hotels for the time being.