Two minpaku companies in Kyoto busted for illegal short-term letting

This month, two companies that both specialize in operating short-term Airbnb-style letting, have been issued cease-and-desist orders from Kyoto City for providing accommodation without the required licenses or permissions. These are the first crackdowns in Japan since the new short-term accommodation law was introduced on June 15, 2018. Hosts found operating illegally now face fines of up to 1 million Yen (approx. 8,900 USD).

On September 14, Kyoto police referred the president and employees of a ryokan management company to prosecutors for allegedly operating a private guesthouse out of a 2-storey home in Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, without obtaining proper permission. A local Kyoto resident hired to clean the home after guests was also implicated in the police reporting.

The city had issued repeated requests for the company to comply with current regulations for the past two years. In July they filed criminal charges. According to the Kyoto Prefectural police, the company started offering unlicensed accommodations in January 2015, advertising listings on the Airbnb website. This particular property was in operation from January 2016 and is estimated to have earned as much as 13 million Yen in accommodation fees from the 238 groups that stayed there over the past 2.5 years.

On September 19, Kyoto City issued a cease-and-desist order to an Osaka-based real estate company and short-term accommodation manager for illegally operating short-term accommodation out of an apartment in Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto. The city had previously discovered that the company was illegally operating 16 rooms around the city. On August 15, the company provided a written oath to the city stating that they would no longer provide illegal lodgings. However, the city found that they continued to provide illegal accommodation to a group of foreign travelers staying in a room in Shimogyo-ku on August 29 and 30. The company apologized, saying they were unable to cancel the existing booking.

As at the end of July, Kyoto City had identified 56 illegally operating accommodation facilities within the city.

Sources:
The Kyoto Shimbun, September 14, 2018.
The Mainichi Shimbun, September 15, 2018.
The Mainichi Shimbun, September 19, 2018.