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Gov't submits proposal on rules for home lodging facilities to expert committee

The national government submitted a proposal to an expert committee on Jan. 12 for rules on the lending out of rooms in private homes to travelers, as the government looks to get better control over the state of such private lodging and prepare for the 2020 Olympics.

    The proposal was submitted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Japan Tourism Agency on Jan. 12, and would classify the accommodation under "simple lodging," as defined by the Inns and Hotels Act.

    In order to rent out lodging, lenders are required under the Inns and Hotels Act to acquire permission from their prefectural governor or from the head of a municipality with a health center. On Internet sites for private home lodging, over 20,000 locations are registered in Japan, but most are believed to be operating without permission, and government services do not have a good grasp of the situation. There have also been problems with lodgers at these homes getting into disputes with neighboring residents. However, the national government sees such lodging as a useful way to make up for the expected lack of hotel facilities for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020.

    According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, of the 92 cases in fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2014 where local governments around the nation turned down applications for permission to operate lodging facilities due to failure to meet the requirements of the Inns and Hotels Act, in 47 cases it was because the facilities did not have the 33 square meters of floor space required for simple lodging. Because of this, the ministry plans to ease the floor space requirement.

    In circumstances where the lender of space in a private home does not live in the lodging, the rules would require that the lender meet in person with the lodgers or otherwise confirm their identities, and that they have a system in place for quickly responding to emergencies. In order to prevent a situation where a person renting a room as a residence relends that room as lodging space without permission from the landlord, the rules will include checks by municipal governments that the details of rental contracts are being followed.

    The committee of experts looking over the proposal has largely agreed to it, and will prepare a midterm report on its details by the end of March, while the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will update related government and ministry ordinances.

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