Tokyo’s Ota Ward gives OK to renting private homes, rooms to tourists


Ota Ward, Tokyo, on Friday started accepting applications from residents and businesses to let rooms or homes to visitors as a way to alleviate hotel shortages amid an increasing number of foreign tourists.

The ward, home to Haneda airport, Japan’s largest air hub, is taking the lead in opening the door to a relatively new form of hosting tourists in Japan, taking advantage of deregulation measures targeting designated regions. It could start approving hosts in mid-February.

An increasing number of private citizens in Japan have been renting rooms and apartments through online services such as Airbnb. But the practice has caused problems, such as concerns that it violates the hotel business law as well as trouble with neighbors about noise and garbage disposal.

In an attempt to eliminate such problems, Ota Ward has published rules and screening criteria. They include a requirement that neighbors who live within 10 meters of a rented property be notified in writing before an application is made. The local fire department must also be advised beforehand.

Under the ward’s rules, minimum stays are set at six nights and seven days. Guest information such as names, contact numbers and passport numbers must be kept for at least three years.

A host must also set up a window to accept complaints from neighbors and be ready to respond in foreign languages in emergencies.

The ward’s briefing session on Tuesday drew around 200 people. Many were from companies such as real estate agents, according to a ward official.

Ota, one of the capital’s 23 wards, passed an ordinance enabling paid accommodation in private homes in December. Osaka Prefecture has also approved a similar measure.

As part of the deregulation deal, Ota Ward and Osaka Prefecture are given exemptions from the provisions of the hotel business law, which requires permits for offering accommodations from prefectural governors and municipal mayors. Depending on the type of accommodation, the law also calls for the establishment of a front desk or other conditions such as the number of rooms and floor area.

The central government is considering expanding the deregulation for paid accommodation in private homes as the country expects to receive even more tourists in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.