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In Japan, new rules may leave home-sharing industry out in the cold

41 Comments
By Junko Fujita

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41 Comments
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TBH, they should maybe just leave it to the apartment complexes and residents themselves to decide.

My apartment complex banned all home-sharing after numerous and repeated offences by foreign guests, and this was very well deserved. Because of these morons, home-sharing will never again be allowed in our apartment building.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Our building body corporate recently enacted a rule that effectively bans this kind of short term rental.

Im in two minds about it.

Im in a new tidy secure access building, the idea of having to deal with any issue, rubbish disposal, noise, security, over capacity visitors, in the Japanese way seems extremely difficult.

(passive aggressive notes on the building notice board are likely to be ineffective)

Its a place with young families and is relatively peaceful and quiet.

Renting out long term is of course fine, I believe one apartment already is.

On the other hand when during the meeting they said could mean many overseas foreigners, I pointed out, firstly there are two "foreign" apartment owners in the building and they seem to be doing fine, and that specific point doesn't really matter if they are overseas or from elsewhere in the country there are potentially bothersome Japanese people too.. they actually said they would change the wording since I brought it up.

There is the need clearly for these kinds of services, but until the rules of renting vs leasing and having the ability to quickly remove people not following rules and regulations it seems like a tough ask.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Sorry meant to add, I think if you have your own stand alone house you should probably be able to do whatever you want provided it isn't bothering your neighbours in any really tangible way.

But you can see how it might, very late and early arrivals regularly etc etc..

I don't think this is as easy and straight forward as people think.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

The hotels are probably behind this in much the same way the black taxis are against uber.

Difficult to regulate pretty much means difficult to collect taxes. Show me an honest politician and I'll show you little green men on the moon.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

What is most insanely ironic is that homes, shops, restaurants, stores, and small factories mixed together in neighborhoods, including homes which are in such poor shape that they are collapsing, or have trash piled out to the street, as zoning is essentially nonexistent.

In fairness there is actually a comprehensive zoning system in Japan, but the appearance of some neighborhoods can lead one to conclude there isn't. In areas zoned residential you can't build shops, restaurants, factories, etc in them and those areas are generally quite neat and quiet. In other zones such as commercial ones though you can also build houses (Japanese law has 12 types of zones and in all but one of them it is permissible to build houses) which is why it is not uncommon to see houses next to pachinko parlors, etc. Its usually the houses rather than the business buildings which are out of place in those cases.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

"Bring order to an unregulated market" means protect a business that does not want to modernise from modernisation.

Many minshuku owners, particularly the ones who fear "misunderstandings with foreigners", may be on local councils that make the local regulations, so they try to regulate new business out of business.

We cannot have confusion in the market.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

so children won't meet strangers on their way to class.

Says it all. It is as if all the renters will dress up as clowns and scare the little ones.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Never used services like Airbnb or Uber. If I owned and lived in an apartment block I would be concerned about any of the owners renting out to Airbnb. Lost of control over security about who is coming and going. I would no longer know who the people are. Not all users of the Airbnb have been respectful of the property.

I'm not opposed to Airbnb or Uber but those service don't just get a free hand to do whatever they want. I was even thinking the next time we visit somewhere I might give the Airbnb a try.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Any chance you know the one zone type that doesn't allow houses?

Of the 12 zones, 2 of them are industrial zones. One of those allows both factories and houses to be built(but not schools or hospitals), the other is exclusively for factories.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If it truly was still home-sharing, ie - people renting out their own home when they're on vacation, rather than buying apartments/homes and renting them out, I think there would not be a problem. The problem is the constant influx and changing of people.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

here's how to beat japanese anal regulators offer your rooms for free on volunteer basis to promote goodwill and have any financial transactions done overseas outside of reach japanese big brother officials

And hope you don't get caught for tax evasion.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The new law makes it impossible for me to continue airbnb as you can't run any other business on the same property, ridiculous.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

If I am told I am vulgar for complaining about Japanese neighbors in my building letting their dogs do number one and number two on the balconies, and smoking on them and tossing raw garbage on them, then I am guilty as charged. I find that when short term people come to stay at places in my apartment building, they are much nicer, politer and know the rules by heart as they do not want to offend everyone. I would like to see more Bnb in my apartment building.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

As usual, they are using ANY excuse to block progress just to protect some well connected industry.

Stranger danger, scary foreigners, noise, anything is a good excuse.

I do think that owners of apartment buildings may add some anti airbnb clause, but for home owners this is completely unacceptable. Basically this is yet another restriction of what you can do with your life.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Japanese law has 12 types of zones and in all but one of them it is permissible to build houses

Interesting, I never knew that. It answers a lot of questions though.

Any chance you know the one zone type that doesn't allow houses?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Luis David Yanez

I would argue that most people have no idea who their neighbors are, and don't really care as long as they don't cause any trouble

we know all of our neighbors in a very wide direction. If I'm on the street brushing up the leaves all will say hello and many will stop for a chat. Same when we meet them on the street going out. They bring small gifts of various foods and I often do the same to them. They are somewhat curios a foreigner can cook Japanese style.

Yesterday I gave five small packages of new bamboo shoots which in turn were given to me, and too many to eat.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Well done on this rule! Long overdue and needed to combat terrible short term stayers

2 ( +6 / -4 )

This is disconcerting. After two decades of putting up with horrible business hotels in this country where even pillows are sometimes considered optional, I started using Airbnb and now can't imagine going back. It was one of those moments of bliss, especially having 2 young kids, to discover that we can actually go places and sleep in accomodations that have enough space for us....and pillows too!

If you are travelling domestically it is just a million times better than the lousy hotels here.

I'm totally sympathetic to the concerns of residents, but these rules just seem arbitrary and do nothing to actually solve them. Particularly that 180 day limit seems deliberately intended to protect the hotel industry since it makes no sense whatsoever in terms of reducing noise, etc. If a building is OK for short term rentals then it is OK for short term rentals and should be allowed to operate 365 days a year. If it is not suitable, then it should not be allowed at all. The idea that all buildings are suitable but only half the time is clearly nonsense and can only be interpreted as a way to reduce potential income to owners by 50% to protect the hotel industry.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I stayed at an Airbnb in Tokyo at the weekend. Just saying, but my kids were excited to be away and it was a struggle to get them to behave in a manner suitable for an apartment and not run around like they do in our house that has no neighbours. The apartment was above a shop, so I doubt we caused much bother, but you do not need much empathy to see how this kind of behaviour from strangers could upset other residents of the same building. I have friends who had to move after having children because their neighbours didn't like the noise.

I stayed out with friends (purpose of the trip), and didn't get back till 4:45 am, which involved walking through a deserted residential area. I was by myself, but had I been with friends all those streets would have had drunken (hopefully not too loud) conversation in them at that hour on a Sunday morning. The area we stayed in has no conventional accommodation, so won't have many non locals out and about after the trains stop.

Japan's cities are very densely populated and having that many people in such a small space only works through consideration. AirBnb is just a case of people doing their own thing and being sanctimonious about the right to do so. That is not how cities, or Japan as a whole work.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I started using AirBNB after my first trip to Japan due to the rude behaviour of two of the hotel staff(female) one in Tokyo the other Osaka. Don't believe what the Government reasons as to why they introduced the new laws the most likeliest reason is pressure from the Hotel businesses seeing revenue going to others.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Great to live in Japan, where you are treated like an oddity.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Lost of control over security about who is coming and going. I would no longer know who the people are.

I would argue that most people have no idea who their neighbors are, and don't really care as long as they don't cause any trouble.

I've never cared who is living in the apartment next door, but I have cared if they are making a lot of noise at 4AM.

Japanese law has 12 types of zones and in all but one of them it is permissible to build houses

Have you ever seen a Japanese Zoning map? They are a mess.

Basically they make them tailored to some interests. For example, I live in a residential area near the mountains, but somehow there is a big high school just 1 block away from my house. When I went and saw the zoning map for my area, It just seemed that the zone of the place the school was, was different from the rest of the neighborhood. It's very obvious that that zone was meant completely for that school alone.

Same thing with a factory near where I live. Just there the zone is different.

Probably the owners have connections with local governments, so that they can get the zoning they need in wherever place they need.

Zoning laws are meaningless if you are a big business.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Zichi,

Thanks again for the link.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

we know all of our neighbors in a very wide direction. If I'm on the street brushing up the leaves all will say hello and many will stop for a chat. Same when we meet them on the street going out. They bring small gifts of various foods and I often do the same to them. They are somewhat curios a foreigner can cook Japanese style.

Yesterday I gave five small packages of new bamboo shoots which in turn were given to me, and too many to eat.

And that's cool, but still I don't see that as an argument to prohibit others of making use of Airbnb.

The way you interact with your neighbors, I would say that for the most part that is almost exclusive to the countryside, or some kind of housing community.

I've lived all my life in the city, and I've rarely have that much interactions with neighbors outside of having problem with noise at night.

Not to mention that you are not required by law to get along with your neighbors, or that your neighbors know who you are in order to live in whatever place you want.

Same thing with monthly/weekly apartments, in fact Airbnb is almost the same as the monthly/weekly apartment business, which by the way, because of useless regulations have to ask permission to local hotels to be able to have their business, which is nothing more that protectionism of the hotel industry.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I bet most of those who are advocating that homeowners should be able to do what they like with their properties have not lived in a block that has a flat or flats let out via airbnb or similar. I have. It's an utter nightmare.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm interested to know why.

Noise and anti-social behaviour are the number one issues. They are on holiday, so they have parties and music and make noise when they come home late. Why do they care, they'll be gone in a few days. Then there is the rubbish left out - no need to bother to go down and place it in the communal bins, just leave it outside the door. If you complain you get abuse. The police were called several times, local authority intervened in one case as it was an ex-council property and the owner was breaking rules that state short term lets are limited to 180 days per year, they were renting out all year round. As the lease holder they were also responsible for the behaviour of their visitors.

Not all guests are like this, but it only takes one every now and then to make your life a misery.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"we know all of our neighbors in a very wide direction. If I'm on the street brushing up the leaves all will say hello and many will stop for a chat." ...................

I envy you. I wish it were like that in the city I live in.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you area experiences a major disaster like a powerful earthquake, you are going to need the help of both your neighbors and the community. Your life may even depend on it.

That's a nice sentiment, but as I said, it's not a legal requirement to get along with your neighbors.

Not to mention that in case of a major disaster, unless I would like to think that even people that do not get along or know each other would try to help each other regardless.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Here we go again - it's because of scary foreigners.

Can't Airbnb also be used by Japanese people who already know and understand Japanese culture and manners etc. completely? Surely children wouldn't have to worry about meeting Japanese 'strangers' on their way to school - as they'd encounter hundreds of similar 'strangers' everyday on their commute to school in Shibuya.

This place makes you pull your hair out sometimes.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Apparently home owners in Japan don’t actually “own” their homes. It appears their homes are owned by the Japanese government, as the government can prohibit them from sharing their homes..

What is most insanely ironic is that homes, shops, restaurants, stores, and small factories mixed together in neighborhoods, including homes which are in such poor shape that they are collapsing, or have trash piled out to the street, as zoning is essentially nonexistent. Residents who don’t complain about noisy workshops, “gomi castles” smelly curry shops, and noisy bar patrons yelling and singing at night for some reason draw the line against people renting houses or mansions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Andrew: Too bad you ran into rude workers in the service industry here. That is rare. Give them another chance.

Rude neighbors though is a different story. I am sure there must be rude AirBNB renters also.

Is renting a room considered ok if the owner, such as myself is there all the time as well?

I want to put up rich people into sailing for the Olympics. I have a beautiful place for bbqing on a roof garden, and the indoor space for 4 people that know each other would be fine. I would send my spouse away for two weeks and stay myself in a small bedroom off of the living area. Would appreciate any opinions.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Luis David Yanez

And that's cool, but still I don't see that as an argument to prohibit others of making use of Airbnb.

I think in some places Airbnb need restrictions especially if it has negative effects on others like in an apartment building.

The way you interact with your neighbors, I would say that for the most part that is almost exclusive to the countryside, or some kind of housing community.

No its not. I live in Kobe City in a very ordinary community just like thousands of others. I think it's important to know thee neighbor and take an interest.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Luis David Yanez

Not to mention that you are not required by law to get along with your neighbors, or that your neighbors know who you are in order to live in whatever place you want.

If you area experiences a major disaster like a powerful earthquake, you are going to need the help of both your neighbors and the community. Your life may even depend on it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have. It's an utter nightmare.

I'm interested to know why. I have two apartments that I rent out through Airbnb, I've never had any complaints and indeed several neighbours have complimented my guests on the way they dispose of trash, park their rental cars, kep the noise down etc. Then again, I do make a big point of stressing to my guests the importance of neighbourly manners when they book.

Also, many of my regular neighbours are pigs; peeing in the parking area, leaving trash out for the crows to savage, dumping stuff in the bushes etc. The area is often a midden and I often have to clean up after them. In my experience my customers have behaved far better than most of my Japanese neighbours who are renting and treat the place like a dumping ground.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Will it be a different story if i host my place for free like for cultural exchange tourists?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Apart from Japan, do other countries charge per person, rather than simply per room ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

[SMH] I think there's a simultaneous sigh happening amongst the 6ft+ tourists/ex-pats here for reasons already mentioned.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

here's how to beat japanese anal regulators offer your rooms for free on volunteer basis to promote goodwill and have any financial transactions done overseas outside of reach japanese big brother officials

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

AirBnB and similar are awful, owners and users rarely have any consideration for the people who actually live there. They also encourage people to rent out short term, as this makes more money than renting out to a long term tenant. It pushes up rents in places popular with tourists. Look at the damage it's done in London and other big cities.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I agree on regulation in apartments because of noise but for residential area, what's the problem with children meeting the tourists? And lastly, HOTELS are expensive!!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

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