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Japan’s ‘Minpaku’ – private short-term lodging

by Floro Mercene

The number of foreign visitors to Japan in 2017 hit a new record, exceeding the previous high of over 24 million logged 2016. “Minpaku” (private lodging) services – in which accommodations in private residences are rented out to travelers – are being counted on as a solution to a shortage of hotel rooms to serve the growing numbers of inbound tourists.

In popular destination like Kyoto, the city estimates that 1.1 million tourists used illegal minpaku lodgings in 2016.

Foreign visitors are increasingly looking for this type of accommodation instead of hotels because of low cost and ease of booking. Unregistered short-term lodgings are being rented throughout the country. For some people, renting out their homes is a source of income. And the business is becoming more popular. In 2016, the government t surveyed over 15,000 private room rentals listed online. 80 percent were either unauthorized or had unconfirmed owners. Some buildings have started banning the business. Residents are worried about noise and strangers coming and going.

Japan is stamping out illegal minpaku starting in June this year. The new legislation was introduced in part to address resident concerns. Homes and apartments will have to be registered in order to be available for rent. They will be required to put up clearly visible signs on doors letting neighbors know that strangers moving in-and-out are renting the rooms. The law also addresses concerns about who will stay in the rooms. It stipulates the people renting out rooms must confirm the identities of guests by requiring passports or other documents, among other things.

US online vacation home-rental service Airbnb Inc. and similar firms are trying to get into the country’s growing minpaku market. The firm will provide furniture, buy insurance policies and clean up properties on behalf of the owners, according to its business plan.