Airbnb in Japan - is it legal?

Last update : June 10th, 2018

Just as the new laws on home sharing come into effect on June 15th, news have spread about Airbnb removing 40,000 entries from its website - nearly 80% of the total private residences listed in Japan.

Airbnb also cancelled thousands of bookings for guests arriving between June 15th and the 19th, if the host has not complied with the new law requirements asking them to register and display the license number.

In the days ahead, similar steps will likely take into effect for all remaining bookings in unlicensed apartments.


We have been noticing that an increasing number of visitors are choosing Airbnb or other related services as their accommodation during their time in Japan.

In certain cities like Tokyo or Kyoto, the shortage or hotel rooms is serious. Also many hotels aren't exactly cost-effective considering the very small size of the rooms.


However visitors should understand that this business model is still in a  "grey zone", just like in many other regions.


There have been many cases reported where hosts are renting their rooms without proper license nor with the approval of the ownership. Particularly in apartments where there is strict security, some residents aren't happy with the fact strangers are wandering around even if they are not causing any trouble. Often times, hosts will ask a guest "to not discuss with neighbors that you booked through Airbnb" or be told altogether "not to communicate with other residents". In these cases, hosts may have to close down their rooms on sudden notice when the neighbors take the extra step of reporting the issue to management or police.


Also the language barrier might make it harder to react in case of a disaster or other unforeseen event. Usually the host is not on-site for 24 hours and not always available in case of an emergency.  


A new law is expected to come into effect June 2018 that will clarify the rules regarding businesses such as Airbnb.


It will:

・Make it mandatory for hosts to register with the local government

・The rooms are fully insured 

・Will put a limit on operations to a max of  180 days per year. (Local governments will have the choice to put a more severe cap)

・Any offenders will be subject to six months of jail or up to 1 million JPY in fines


The "180 day rule" will make the business far less profitable and could drive some hosts to close their rooms.


The Japanese team of Airbnb has commented that it will make updates to their system so hosts that exceed the 180 day limit will be blocked from taking further reservations.