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Let’s discuss Airbnb and minpaku laws

This week’s featured article

ERIC JOHNSTON, STAFF WRITER

Just over a week before a new law for minpaku (private lodging services) goes into effect, the popular rental website Airbnb has dropped nearly 80 percent of its listings for the services over the past three months.

As of March, Airbnb, Inc. had over 62,000 properties in the country available for rental. But according to Hollywis LLC, a Kanagawa-based research firm that analyzes the minpaku sector, that number has dropped to 13,800 as operators get ready for the law taking effect on June 15 that will govern their services. Many properties listed on Airbnb were suspected of operating illegally or semilegally.

On its website, Airbnb informed homeowners that it would not display their listings until they showed they had official permission to operate. When owners show they are in compliance with the new law, their rooms will be posted on the website again.

The large drop in the number of Airbnb listings comes amid national efforts to crack down on illegal private lodgings and local efforts to place tougher restrictions on how, when and where legal facilities may operate.

The new law requires that homeowners register their rental properties with the local government, which will conduct fire and safety checks before issuing approval. On June 1, the Japan Tourism Agency sent a notice requesting that minpaku operators cancel reservations with facilities that were unregistered.

“We think the reason for the large decline was because of the June 1 notice,” said Konosuke Tamura, CEO of Hollywis.

Homeowners will only be allowed to rent out their rooms for a maximum of 180 days a year, and they must also keep a guest registry. Illegal minpaku operators face a fine of up to ¥1 million if caught, whereas the previous fine was not more than ¥30,000.

Local governments may also place their own restrictions on minpaku operations, and many already have. In Kyoto, supervisors for rooms and facilities run by someone other than the owner must live within 800 meters of the buildings.

In residential areas of Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, and Sapporo there are local ordinances that forbid minpaku operations on most weekdays. In the historic Bikan canal district of Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, minpaku services are banned entirely, with the city saying it is trying to preserve the environment and atmosphere of the area.

While Osaka has not placed severe local restrictions on minpaku operations, the city established a task force last month to ensure that operators adhere to the new law.

First published in The Japan Times on June 7.

Warm up

One-minute chat about traveling.

Game

Collect words related to accommodation, e.g., hotel, stay, trip.

New words

1) compliance: following a rule or order, e.g., “We operate in compliance with the law.”

2) forbid: not allow, e.g., “I forbid you to leave this house.”

Guess the headline

A_ _ _ _ _ drops nearly 80 p_ _ _ _ _ _ of its private home listings ahead of new peer-to-peer rental law

Questions

1) About how many properties are now listed on Airbnb in Japan?

2) What must minpaku owners do to make their service legal?

3) What is the situation regarding minpaku in Kurashiki?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What kind of accommodation do you like to stay in when you travel?

2) What do you think about minpaku?

3) What do you think should be done to regulate minpaku in Japan?

Reference

新しい宿泊の方法が誕生し、この10年ほどの間に旅先での過ごし方は大きく変わりました。同時に観光客を迎え入れる側の状況も大きく変わったことも覚えておかなければいけないでしょう。観光客が拠点とする場所を把握し管理するために法律が動き出し、民泊は大きな分岐点を迎えているようです。

新しい宿泊のありかたである民泊とどのようにつきあっていくべきなのか、朝の会に参加し皆さんで話し合ってみましょう。

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