TOKYO >> Illegal private lodging facilities have decreased while the price of legal rentals has risen due to the scarcity of available rooms after the Private Lodging Business Law came into force on June 15.
The law establishes rules for offering private lodgings — also known as “minpaku” in Japanese — in which visitors pay to stay in private homes, and requires minpaku operators to register with relevant municipalities.
After the law came into force, many illegal minpaku operators pulled out of the market, decreasing the number of available properties. As of July 6, the number of registered minpaku operators stood at 5,397 — falling from about 60,000 operators that were posted on websites this spring.
However, demand for such accommodations remained strong among foreign visitors.
The decline in the supply of minpaku accommodations has hiked room rates by 50 percent in Tokyo, according to Kurumi Ishii, a certified administrative procedures legal specialist who has written a book about private lodgings.
Under the new law, operators can rent accommodations for a maximum of 180 days a year, which makes it difficult to turn a profit, and requires operators to maintain a guest registry.
Some municipal governments impose tougher rules. For instance, operators in Kyoto are urged to consult with city authorities prior to registration, a requirement not stipulated in the new law or a city ordinance. Meanwhile, websites have taken measures to exclude unregistered operators.
Some operators have begun shifting to other businesses or plan to lease the properties as regular apartment rentals.
And yet some operators still continue to operate illegally.
Website Airbnb requires operators to add the registration numbers provided by local governments to post properties on its website, but the company has found some operators using fake numbers.
“It takes some time to confirm whether operators have completed proper procedures, making it hard to completely eliminate unlawful operators,” said an Airbnb staff member.