Japan law to boost home sharing
Japan’s home-sharing market is poised to shift away from couch-surfing towards professional services after the passing of a law regulating short-term rentals. The change will help HomeAway play to its strengths in the battle against Airbnb, according to Natsuko Kimura, country manager for Expedia’s home-rental subsidiary.
Enacted this month, the bill lets people in Japan rent out property without the risk of running into regulatory hurdles.
The law limits total stays to 180 nights a year and requires that providers register with local governments. The regulations also increase oversight of absentee landlords, requiring owners to outsource property management to parties capable of guaranteeing safety and hygiene. While Airbnb has taken the lead in Japan with 52,000 listings, HomeAway’s focus on luxury holiday properties gives the company an advantage as the market expands beyond individuals sharing spare rooms, according to Ms Kimura. Entire homes for rent already account for about 90 per cent of HomeAway’s less than 10,000 listings in the archipelago, she says.
Japan’s green light for home sharing has been accompanied by looser hotel regulations as the country struggles to cope with an influx of overseas visitors.
Relaxing rules could help bring new properties to the market where an ageing population has resulted in about 8 million homes sitting empty. Overseas companies aren’t the only ones sensing an opportunity. Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten and real estate listing operator Lifull last week announced plans to enter the home-sharing business.
“The market is going to change completely,” Ms Kimura said. “Major real-estate companies, for example, had to stay on the sidelines before the legalisation. Now, corporations can enter the market on the supply side.”
More than 24 million tourists visited Japan last year, topping the record for a fourth straight year, according to the nation’s tourism organisation. HomeAway wants to increase its listings in Japan to 100,000 by 2020, Ms Kimura said.
Japan has regulated short-term home rentals.