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Over 40,000 Airbnb Rentals Removed After Japan Adopts New Home-Sharing Law

Illustration for article titled Over 40,000 Airbnb Rentals Removed After Japan Adopts New Home-Sharing Law
Photo: Carl Court (Getty)

Heading to Japan next week? You should probably double-check your Airbnb rental, because it might be cancelled. The country will soon enforce a law requiring vacation rentals like Airbnb residences to be registered with the Japanese government, prompting the removal of more than 48,000 Japan-based Airbnb listings, and the cancellation of reservations for as early as next week.

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According to Nikkei, the more than 62,000 Japanese listings seen as recently this spring have dwindled to just 13,800 due to an amendment to Japan’s Hotels and Inns Act, which now requires hosts to register their listing and restrict rental periods to 180 days per year. On June 1, Airbnb was instructed to cancel reservations made at unregistered residences, two weeks before the June 15 deadline.

“As a result, any reservation scheduled for guest arrival between June 15 and June 19 at a listing in Japan that does not currently have a license has been cancelled,” said Airbnb. “Going forward, unless the government reverses its position, we will automatically cancel and fully refund any reservations at listings in Japan that have not been licensed within 10 days of guest arrival.”

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Airbnb, according to its statement on the incident, says it was caught by surprise, and the June 1 announcement was “contrary to the guidance” the company was given by the Japanese Tourism Agency. “Much to our disappointment, after a number of discussions, including a meeting today, the JTA was unwilling to return to their original position or to make reasonable compromises to protect travelers visiting Japan,” said Airbnb.

This isn’t the first time Airbnb has been the subject of scrutiny based on its detrimental effect on neighborhoods and available residential housing. Japan’s restrictions follow the registration and 120-day rental limit imposed in Paris, France. A court will rule on June 12 whether or not the unregistered rentals, amounting to over 80 percent of the city’s Airbnb listings, must be removed from the site.

To its credit, Airbnb plans to support affected travelers with what it’s calling its Japan Travel Response Plan. A $10 million fund will be used to cover “unexpected and unavoidable expenses based on this sudden development” for guests with cancelled reservations. Affected guests will also receive a full refund, along with a $100 coupon toward its activity-centric Airbnb Experience service. Affected guests must email Airbnb and submit copies of the relevant receipts (like hotel accommodations and flight change fees) to get reimbursed for the unexpected costs “within two to four weeks.” Gizmodo has reached out to Airbnb for further clarification.

Staff Reporter, Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

thenoblerenard
The Noble Renard

While this definitely sucks for the people who had rented the AirBnBs (seriously, I bet there are lot of people panicking and trying to rent new hotels right now, which sucks), I’m still in support of crackdowns on AirBnB in general. Especially restrictions like the one in the article for rooms that are rented for more than 180 days. I have friends who use AirBnB to rent their apartments when they’re gone on vacation or work trips, and that’s a great use of the platform! But the assholes who have literally taken apartments that should be in the rental market and have turned them into illegal hotels deserve to be kicked off the platform.

Renting out apartments on AirBnB as essentially full-year hotels demonstrably hurts the rental market (one study in NYC found that AirBnB was responsible for around 20% of the overall rent increases in the city) in the locations where it occurs. It’s also a hassle to the neighbors who have to deal with a stream of guests into a building or residential neighborhood that is not designed for that.