Ahead of Japan’s new minpaku law coming into effect, Airbnb froze a “major portion” of home listings and guest reservations in the country, citing requirements by the Japanese government for hosts without a licence number to cancel upcoming reservations booked before June 15.
Bloomberg reported that Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) on June 1 notified homesharing services they must cancel reservations made with unregistered listings – a full two weeks before the deadline. Under the new law, hosts are required to register their listing and display a license number on their listing page by June 15.
In a statement, Airbnb said the announcement from the government was “sudden”, and pointed out many hosts without a licence number were still “actively engaged in the registration process or awaiting their licence”.
Any reservation scheduled for guest arrival between June 15 and June 19 at a listing in Japan that does not currently have a license has been cancelled. Going forward, Airbnb announced that it will automatically cancel and fully refund any reservations at listings in Japan that have not been licensed within 10 days of guest arrival, unless the government reverses its position.
According to Airbnb, this announcement “was contrary to the guidance our team had previously been given by JTA”. Airbnb said in the statement that while it had reached out to JTA about the requirement, the agency was “unwilling to return to their original position or to make reasonable compromises”.
The homesharing giant however assured it will continue to help hosts get registered. This includes helping hosts meet directly with legal experts, as well as providing financial support to hosts who may incur additional expenses when registering.
It will also set aside US$10 million in funds to cover unexpected and unavoidable additional expenses due to the sudden development.
If a guest receives a cancellation for a reservation on or after June 15 due to the listing not having a license number, Airbnb will also provide a full refund and a coupon worth at least 100 per cent of the booking value to use on a future Airbnb trip, as well as a US$100 coupon for an Airbnb Experience.
Refunds and coupons will be processed within 10 days.
In addition, Airbnb says guests who can’t find accommodations that meets their needs on Airbnb may also seek assistance from JTB.