Heading to Japan next week? You should probably double-check your Airbnb rental, because it might be cancelled. The country will soon enforce a law requiring holiday rentals such as Airbnb residences to be registered with the Japanese government, prompting the removal of more than 48,000 Japan-based Airbnb listings, and the cancellation of reservations for as early as next week.
Photo: Carl Court (Getty)
According to Nikkei, the more than 62,000 Japanese listings seen as recently as this autumn have dwindled to just 13,800 due to an amendment to Japan's Hotels and Inns Act, which now requires hosts to register their listing and restrict rental periods to 180 days per year.
On June 1, Airbnb was instructed to cancel reservations made at unregistered residences, two weeks before the June 15 deadline.
"As a result, any reservation scheduled for guest arrival between June 15 and June 19 at a listing in Japan that does not currently have a licence has been cancelled," said Airbnb.
"Going forward, unless the government reverses its position, we will automatically cancel and fully refund any reservations at listings in Japan that have not been licensed within 10 days of guest arrival."
Airbnb, according to its statement on the incident, says it was caught by surprise, and the June 1 announcement was "contrary to the guidance" the company was given by the Japanese Tourism Agency.
"Much to our disappointment, after a number of discussions, including a meeting today, the JTA was unwilling to return to their original position or to make reasonable compromises to protect travellers visiting Japan," said Airbnb.
This isn't the first time Airbnb has been the subject of scrutiny based on its detrimental effect on neighbourhoods and available residential housing. Japan's restrictions follow the registration and 120-day rental limit imposed in Paris, France. A court will rule on June 12 whether or not the unregistered rentals, amounting to over 80 per cent of the city's Airbnb listings, must be removed from the site.
To its credit, Airbnb plans to support affected travellers with what it's calling its Japan Travel Response Plan. A $US10 million ($13 million) fund will be used to cover "unexpected and unavoidable expenses based on this sudden development" for guests with cancelled reservations.
Affected guests will also receive a full refund, along with a $US100 ($131) coupon toward its activity-centric Airbnb Experience service.
Affected guests must email Airbnb and submit copies of the relevant receipts (such as hotel accommodations and flight change fees) to get reimbursed for the unexpected costs "within two to four weeks". Gizmodo has reached out to Airbnb for further clarification but had not heard back at time of writing.