Short-term vacation rentals remain a controversial topic both here in Hawai‘i and in many locations around the world. In Japan, the government has adopted an ambitious plan to regulate the practice. And now there’s a case that’s testing the system.
Authorities in Japan are cracking down on illegal vacation rentals. This spring, the national government adopted a series of guidelines — and gave broad powers to local governments to add their own restrictions.
The starting point is to get a license with local authorities.
In the city of Kyoto, there’s now a case of a hotel management company that has been refusing to comply with the rules.
Kyodo News reports the company provided accommodations to 15 tourists in late June — without getting a permit from the local government. The city government warned the company, called “Capital Incubator,” but corporate officials did not follow up. In fact, they told police it would have been too much work for them to renovate the property to meet requirements and get a permit.
Before the new law, the maximum fine for an offense like this would have been 30,000 yen — a little less than 300 dollars . . . in many cases, seen as a simple cost of doing business.
Now the fines can be a million yen per violation — nearly 9,000 dollars.
Police in Kyoto have now charged four officials of that company with violations, and have referred the case to prosecutors.
The Japan Tourism Agency estimates there are about 25,000 short term rentals advertising online in Japan. The agency says about 3,000 of them don’t have permits.
The case in Kyoto will be the first in the country to go to court.