Home buyers and sellers: Building inspection guidelines introduced this month

From April 1st, 2018, licensed real estate agencies must include a clause in agency agreements with buyers and sellers that make note of home inspections. The added clause will indicate (1) whether the real estate company has an affiliated home inspection agent that they have a referral program with, and (2) if a home inspection has been carried out within the past 12 months and the main details of those inspection results.

If an inspection has been carried out, the contract of sale will have a clause whereby the seller and buyer both confirm the results of the inspection. An outline of the results will also be included in the Explanation of Important Matters documentation which is read to the buyer before contract documents are signed.

It is important to note that there is no obligation or requirement for a seller to carry out a home inspection, although it is hoped that the revision will make more consumers aware of building inspections. A seller might choose to carry out an inspection when listing their home for sale to provide some comfort to potential buyers.

Kyoto approves minpaku rule requiring host to be within 10 minute radius of property

On February 23, Kyoto City approved a local ordinance that will impose strict rules on hosts of unlicensed short-term ‘minpaku’ accommodation.

For properties located in exclusive residential zones, hosts can only provide accommodation for a maximum of 60 days per year and only during the off-season winter months from January 15 to March 15. Both traditional machiya townhouses and properties where the host also lives on the premises may be exempt if certain requirements are met.

Tokyo’s Ota Ward first in Japan to ban overnight accommodation in exclusive residential zones

Tokyo’s Ota Ward is the first district in Japan to ban all minpaku-style overnight or short-term accommodation in exclusively residential zones. On December 8, local councillors voted in favor of the ban with the rules to go into effect from June 15, 2018.

Ota was one of the first areas in Japan to actively promote and encourage short-term rentals. In January 2016 Ota ward allowed registered hosts of properties in approved ‘special zones’ to rent out accommodation for minimum stays of 6 nights without needing a hotel license. Normally a stay of less than 30 days would require a hotel license. Councillors have also voted in favor of reducing this stay to a minimum of 2 nights and 3 days.

Kyoto’s proposed short-term letting rules to be strictest in country

On November 30 Kyoto City announced their proposed regulations for Airbnb-style short-term rentals. To provide support for complaints and emergency situations, hosts may be required to have a full-time manager stationed in an office within an 800 meter radius of the property. Hosts may also be required to submit a written oath to the city stating that they have not been operating an unlicensed BnB within the past 3 months.

These regulations will over-ride the new nationwide law set to go into effect from June 2018 that will allow overnight stays in non-hotels for up to 180 nights per year.

Yokohama may ban short-term letting on weekdays

Yokohama City is following in Shinjuku’s footsteps by proposing to introduce a ban on short-term Airbnb-style letting on weekdays. The plan would prohibit minpaku rentals from Mondays through Thursdays in areas zoned as Exclusively Low-Rise Residential. The plan will be open to public comment until December 19, with the draft to be submitted to the city council in February 2018.

Approximately 31% of Yokohama City’s area is designated as an Exclusively Low-Rise Residential Zone. The reasoning for the week-day ban is to ensure a peaceful environment for those who work during the week and do not want their neighborhood interrupted by travelers while trying to rest on weeknights.

Real estate company reported to prosecutors for illegal BnB in Kyoto

Kyoto’s Economic Crime Investigation Division and the Ukyo Police Department have sent papers to prosecutors on a Nagoya-based real estate company under suspicion of illegally renting out a house in Kyoto City to tourists. A total of five people from the company, including the company president, are accused of acting as an intermediary for the property owner, by advertising the house as short-term accommodation on booking sites. This is a rare case where an intermediary or management company has been caught up in potential charges.

The 3-storey house was reportedly rented to foreign tourists on an overnight basis for around 50,000 Yen per night, without having any of the required hotel licenses or permissions. The house is in an exclusive residential zone, which currently prohibits any sort of hotel operations.

Kyoto City might limit some Airbnb-type rentals to just January and February months

Kyoto City has started official discussions that may see Airbnb-type short-term rentals in certain residential zones limited to just the January and February months and for no more than 60 nights in total.

Hosts looking to rent out places in primarily residential neighbourhoods in central Kyoto, including areas around Kinkaku-ji temple and Nanzen-ji temple, may find themselves limited to the off-season winter months. Under the proposal, properties located in exclusive residential zones (Category I and II Exclusively Low-Rise Residential Zones, and Category I and II Mid/High-Rise Oriented Residential Zones) may only be rented to tourists for the months of January and February, with a maximum limit of 60 nights over those two months. There may be some relaxation of the rules for hosts who live in the properties or live nearby.

Shinjuku plans to ban short-term accommodation on weekdays

Tokyo’s Shinjuku district is finalizing plans that will impose stricter limitations on short-term accommodation in some residential zones. The city is currently in the process of seeking public comments that will help shape the final regulations.

Under the proposal, properties located in exclusive residential zones cannot be let out to guests from Monday through Thursday, limiting the maximum allowable nights per year to 156, below the national government’s proposed limit of 180 nights per year.

What are exclusive residential zones?