Japan Likely to Ease Rules on Minpaku Vacation Rentals to Boost Regional Tourism

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A man cleans a room in a minpaku accommodation in Ota Ward, Tokyo.

The government will likely relax the requirements for management companies operating minpaku lodging businesses that rent condominiums or private homes to travelers, eliminating the requirement that their staff have practical experience or qualifications in the real estate business.

The government’s move is aimed at increasing the number of minpaku management companies and revitalizing the tourism industry in regional areas in anticipation of a recovery in the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan.

The government will revise a Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry ordinance as early as this summer.

The Private Lodging Business Law requires that management companies be appointed to operate private accommodations that have more than five rooms and to be responsible for cleaning and check-in confirmations in the absence of the facility’s owner.

Under the current ministerial ordinance, the staff of management companies are required to have at least two years of work experience in the real estate business or a qualification such as being a certified real estate transaction agent. The revised ministerial ordinance will eliminate these requirements and instead require them to take a training program. The ministry will discuss the specific content of the training program based on the opinions of the Japan Association of Vacation Rental (JAVR) and will make it public as early as this fiscal year.

Management companies for minpaku private accommodations are concentrated in urban areas. According to the JAVR, there were 2,993 such companies nationwide as of April 2022, with nearly 70% located in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and other major cities. While Tokyo has the greatest number, at 1,005, there are 13 prefectures that each have fewer than 10 management companies, including Aomori, Fukui and Kochi.

The JAVR said that the existing strict requirements are a barrier to new entrants to the management industry. Currently, minpaku management companies are mainly real estate companies. If the requirements are eased, it is expected that local hotels, inns and travel agencies will take on this role.

In rural areas, there are many old private homes and other facilities suitable for minpaku stays that are popular with foreign tourists. However, when facility owners in rural areas try to outsource their facilities to management companies located in urban areas, they are often turned down or charged high fees because “routine cleaning is difficult.” There have been many cases in which owners have given up on opening minpaku accommodations because they could not find a management company. There have been increasing calls for the requirements to be eased.