Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

Airbnb says forced to cancel bookings under new Japan law

Airbnb says forced to cancel bookings under new Japan law

The New South Wales Government announced changes to the state's short-term letting laws on Tuesday, which would lead to some apartment owners being banned from listing their apartment on Airbnb.

The company determined to cancel any reservation made by a guest arriving "between June 15 and June 19 at a listing in Japan that does not now have a license", said Airbnb in a statement.

Problem is, many hosts "are actively engaged in the registration process or awaiting their license", Airbnb said of the issue.

For instance, Airbnb rentals in Kyoto will only be permitted during the slow season for tourism (January to March). The rules, which go into effect on June 15, would require hosts to obtain a license in order to use the platform. "We know this stinks - and that's an understatement".

The government has given property owners another option: to provide lodging with a hotel license, which frees them from the 180-day limit.

Market leader Airbnb Inc had 62,000 listings in Japan earlier this year, but as of May 11, the Japanese government had approved 152 of 724 applications for home-sharing, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

Hosts listing accommodation in China will also have their details passed on once they start accepting bookings.

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The company has set up a $10 million fund to compensate travellers who had made booking at homes which are now deemed in violation of the new law. The company will refund all accommodation fees to customers who made bookings and will also pay for airline ticket fees incurred due to the cancellations.

Hosts willing to jump through all the hoops still have to contend with a market that's shifting from couch-surfing toward professional services. "There will undoubtedly be a period of adjustment, but ultimately, clear rules and regulations for home sharing will make our community in Japan bigger and stronger".

Airbnb says it hopes to respond to legitimate reimbursement requests within 2-4 weeks.

Japan, in turn, is keen for tourism to help jumpstart a flagging economy.

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"While this is a hard time for our hosts and guests, we believe the new rules will ultimately be a positive change for Airbnb and our Japan community", said Airbnb.

The government said it also wanted to offer more lodging options for tourists, with an eye toward next year's Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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