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.

The restricted zones only cover about 20% of the total Hakone region, but the prefecture may apply further restrictions if problems arise.

The town had 408 fully licensed accommodation facilities in 2017, capable of hosting 27,636 guests. This is down from 507 facilities and a maximum of 33,084 guests in 2008. The biggest decline has been in company-provided accommodation facilities, which have almost halved in number over the past 10 years as companies slowly do away with sponsored accommodation for their employees.

The town had 19.5 million tourists in 2016, up 12.6% from 2015 but down 7.7% from 2014. Approximately 1 in 5 tourists stayed in a hotel or ryokan, with the remainder coming to Hakone for a day trip. About 12% of the hotel guests were foreign tourists.

This local rule will go into effect on June 15 – the same day as the nationwide law regarding Airbnb-style rentals will be enforced.

From June 2018 the national government will enforce new legislation legalizing Airbnb-type rentals, although hosts must meet a number of requirements and follow a registration process. Properties can only be rented out on a short-term basis for a maximum of 180 days per year. The maximum penalty for infringements will be increased to 1,000,000 Yen or up to 6 months in jail. Local governments have the power to impose even tighter rules, and many are currently in the process of introducing additional regulations.

The Tokyo Shimbun, February 9, 2018.
The Nikkei Shimbun, February 8, 2018.

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