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).

Hakone to restrict short-term accommodation in holiday home areas

Kanagawa Prefecture has approved a special rule that will restrict minpaku-style short-term and overnight accommodation by hosts in the mountain-top hot-spring town of Hakone.

Under the new rule, short-term rentals are banned in 18 districts designated as Category I Tourist Districts located within Category I Exclusively Low-Rise Residential Zones in Hakone Town. Up to 80% of the homes in these districts are holiday homes.

Properties in these zones cannot be rented out for short-term stays between March 1 ~ June 1, August 1 ~ September 1, and October 1 ~ December 1. It is important to note that these are the popular tourist seasons for the town. Renting outside of these periods requires the host to register their accommodation.

No approvals yet under new short-term letting rules in Kyoto

With less than a month until Japan’s nationwide short-term letting (minpaku) law goes into effect, applications from potential hosts in Kyoto City remain in the single digits.

The city’s application desk has received six applications, while zero have been approved. Kyoto City has the strictest minpaku rules in the country, with properties in exclusive residential zones limited to operations for up to 60 days per year between January 15 and March 15 (the winter months). Properties outside those zones that are not occupied by hosts must have a licensed property manager stationed around the clock within a 10 minute radius of each property. There are some exceptions for properties where the host lives on the premises, and for traditional machiya townhouses.

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.

Only 0.3% of Japan’s apartment buildings approve of short-term letting

[LEFT] Signs at the concierge desk of an apartment building in Osaka (Image via the Asahi Shimbun); [RIGHT] A sign in the elevator of a Tokyo apartment building warns that short-term letting and share houses are banned.
A survey of condominium management associations across Japan has found that only 0.3% have decided to allow Airbnb-type short term letting. Over 80% have already updated building bylaws to ban any of these ‘minpaku’ rentals, while the remainder are still in the process of making a decision.

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.

City Towers Toyosu to crack down on illegal home sharing

The owners association of City Towers Toyosu The Twin – a 48-storey, 1,063-unit condominium located on a man-made island in Tokyo Bay – entered into an agreement with a local provider to weed out any AirBnb-type rentals in the building.

This is the first of this type of agreement for a high-rise apartment building. The company providing the service is Tokyo-based Oscar Inc. The company operates the Minpaku Police website which allows neighbors to report suspected illegal short-term rentals. The majority of reports made to the website are regarding security and noise concerns.