Japan to explore relaxing ‘minpaku’ vacation rental rules

Japan: The Japanese government is considering relaxing the requirements for property management businesses operating ‘minpaku’ vacation rentals [i.e. private lodgings on platforms such as Airbnb] in a bid to galvanise regional tourism in the country.

Ahead of an anticipated uptick in foreign tourists returning to Japan after the pandemic, the government is set to revise a Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry ordinance no earlier than this summer, which could include taking away the requirement for employees of minpaku rental businesses to have existing practical experience or qualifications in the sector.

The current ministerial ordinance requires staff to have worked in the real estate sector for at least two years or to have achieved a qualification that certifies them as real estate transaction agents.

Under the Private Lodging Business Law, it is obligatory for property management companies to operate private lodgings that have more than five rooms and also handle cleaning and check-in confirmations.

A decision on the potential revision of the requirements will be weighted on the thoughts of the Japan Association of Vacation Rental [JAVR].

As of April last year, the JAVR estimates that there were 2,993 minpaku rental businesses operating in Japan, with the majority heavily concentrated in urban locations. According to the organisation, 70 per cent of those businesses can be found in major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka, whereas 13 prefectures – including Aomori, Fukui and Kochi – are limited to ten or fewer private lodging businesses.

While there is no urgent shortage of homes and accommodations suitable for private stays outside of metropolitan areas in Japan, many property owners have reported difficulties when it comes to outsourcing services such as cleaning to management firms in urban areas due to the existing minpaku requirements.

STRz explored Japan’s relationship with minpaku ahead of the country’s delayed Olympic / Paralympic Games, for which Airbnb was a sponsor [and will remain so until 2028.