The Diet on Friday enacted a law that allows property owners across Japan to rent out vacant homes or rooms to tourists after notifying municipalities, to meet growing demand for accommodation due to a surge in foreign travelers to the country.
The law, which allows operators to provide lodging services for up to 180 days per year including in residential areas, is expected to come into force in 2018.
Amid persistent concerns about the potential impact of the move on residential areas, the government plans to set ministerial ordinances to avoid trouble with local residents and ensure lodgers’ safety.
Among such measures, the government will set fire-safety facility standards and other detailed business regulations, including ways to confirm the identities of guests. It will also consider financial support to municipal governments.
Under the law, property owners can rent out their homes or rooms even in areas designated as exclusively residential where hotels and inns are not allowed to operate in principle.
Lodging service providers are also required to clearly mark their buildings with signs, keep records of lodgers, take measures against noise and respond to complaints from residents.
Operators violating the regulations could be ordered to suspend or terminate their businesses and may face prison terms of up to six months or a fine of up to 1 million yen ($9,090) if they do not abide by such orders.
In areas where it is feared living conditions could deteriorate once private lodging services are permitted, municipalities would be allowed to shorten the 180-day maximum annual operating period.
Operators wishing to provide services throughout the year are required to obtain permission under separate legislation on hotels and inns.
Such home-sharing services were already available in some specially designated areas including Tokyo’s Ota Ward and some cities in Osaka Prefecture, where property owners can rent out their homes or rooms after obtaining certification from municipality heads.