Tokyo’s Taito Ward tightens rules on AirBnb-type rentals

On March 29, members of the local government in Tokyo’s Taito Ward voted unanimously in favour of reforms to regulations under the Inns and Hotels Act that will make it overwhelming difficult to operate AirBnb-type short-term rentals.

The reforms will require an employee of the host company to be stationed on the premises during business hours, as well as having a front desk at the property’s entrance. Under these rules, studio apartments or entire houses would not meet the conditions. A local council member said that the ward is not opposed to short-term accommodation, but wants to ensure the safety of anyone who visits the area.

Operators that fail to meet these rules may not be fined, but may either be ordered to cease operation or have their license revoked if they fail to take appropriate action. For those caught operating without a license, penalties may include imprisonment with hard labour.

Taito Ward is home to some very popular tourist destinations including Senso-ji Temple and Ueno Park, and attracts approximately 45 million tourists annually.

From April 1, 2016, the Japanese government relaxed rules under the Hotel Act to make it easier to rent out residences for short-term stays of less than 30 days, however, each local government must approve these regulations before they can be applied. Some of the changes included reducing the minimum floor area, and partially removing the requirement for a front desk concierge, thereby making single studio apartments a possible option for short-term accommodation.

However, not all local governments are in favour of following the national government’s lead. Some of the more commonly cited concerns include tourists or hosts ignoring garbage disposal rules, and noise issues for neighbouring residents.

The Mainichi Shimbun, March 29, 2016.
The Asahi Shimbun, April 2, 2016.

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