If you’re traveling to Japan in the next few weeks and you have an Airbnb reservation, you better start looking for alternate housing because thousands of listings have been removed thanks to a new law.
Home-sharing became legal in Japan just last year. But a new amendment to Japan’s Hotels and Inns Act (passed in 1947) now requires anyone participating in a home-sharing (like the sort offered via Airbnb) to register their property and include a license number in their listing before June 15.
That’s all well and good, but on June 1 the Japanese government announced any listing that did not already meet the criteria would have all bookings made before June 15 canceled. According to the Nikkei Asian Review, this wiped out roughly 80 percent of Airbnb’s listings in Japan, leaving those with reservations in that window high and dry.
On Thursday, Airbnb posted a statement online, calling the sudden change a “surprise,” saying it was “contrary to the guidance our team had previously been given by the Japanese Tourism Agency (JTA).” The company also announced that it would refund any traveler whose booking is canceled.
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. 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.
But that still likely leaves thousands of travelers in the lurch for new lodging. So Airbnb also announced a $10 million fund to reimburse travelers for unexpected expenses due to cancellations. The company is also working with a Japan-based travel agency and has opened up a support line to give additional help to travelers affected by the cancellations.
Japan is hardly alone in doing battle with home-share companies like Airbnb. The burgeoning industry became a flash point in San Francisco and, more recently, Paris is cracking down on such offerings.
The new changes in Japan’s law include additional regulations, like limiting hosts to only offering their property for 180 days each year and other locally imposed restrictions.
So even if you have travel plans to Japan that don’t occur in the immediate future, it’s still worth double-checking to see how this new tweak to the law might throw a bit of a wrench into your agenda.