Similar to January’s Airbnb purge in San Francisco, the news from Japan highlights regulatory friction between the home-rental giant and the destinations where it operates.
Heading to Japan? Your choice of Airbnb listings just dropped nearly 80 percent, from more than 62,000 properties to just 13,800 options, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reported today. The purge is a result of a new “minpaku,” or private home-sharing law that takes effect on June 15 and requires hosts to obtain permission from the government to operate.
Airbnb had grown rapidly in Japan since launching in 2013; however, many hosts were operating in a legal gray zone. There were rules requiring hosts to obtain a permit under hotel law or within special economic zones, but many neglected to take the necessary legal steps.
Thus the new legislation will actually lower legal risks for hosts, allowing them to rent their spaces for up to 180 days per year, once they are approved. But any hosts who fail to register before the June 15 deadline will be unable to operate.
The purge will have a ripple effect on hundreds or thousands of travelers’ upcoming stays—especially because of its abrupt and unexpected implementation.
“I loved staying in an Airbnb while visiting my sister in Tokyo. I felt like we were in the epicenter of the city and fully able to experience the culture as a local or at least an expat. I definitely felt comfortable,” says Gabriela Baiter, a brand strategist at Uber, about her 2015 trip to Japan.
The Japan Tourism Agency notified home-sharing websites on Friday that they must cancel bookings made by hosts who had not received permission to operate, prompting Airbnb to remove unauthorized listings earlier than that June 15 deadline. Rooms taken offline could reappear once hosts prove registration.
In January 2018, the number of Airbnb listings in San Francisco dropped nearly 50 percent from 10,000 to 5,500 after new legislation required host registration.
Travelers to Japan are far from the first to experience the effects of the evolving regulatory relationships between Airbnb and the destinations where it operates. The number of Airbnb listings in San Francisco dropped nearly 50 percent from 10,000 to 5,500 in January 2018 after new legislation required host registration.
San Francisco announced the new legislation in the hopes of curbing the number of apartments used for year-round Airbnb rentals. Similar to the situation in Japan, many hosts waited to the last minute with hundreds of new applications pouring in the week before the deadline and many bookings abruptly cancelled.
San Francisco and Japan have often been Airbnb’s fastest growing and most saturated markets, but several emerging destinations are also reconsidering their relationship with the rental platform. Mexico, which overtook Japan as the fastest growing market, Morocco, and Norway are among the destinations currently reviewing tax and registration regulations with regards to the home-rental platform.
The ever-changing landscape does not appear to worry Airbnb cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky who just last week said that the company would be ready for an IPO in 2019, although he was unsure whether it would happen.