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News Navigator: Why is there a new law for 'minpaku' private lodgings?

A sample of certification issued to registered private lodging businesses. (Mainichi)

Q: Has a new law on "minpaku" been enacted?

A: The Private Lodging Business Act came into force on June 15. For private houses, called "minpaku," to accommodate travelers, permission based on the Inns and Hotels Act was required before. Now with the new law in place, private houses can be operated as lodging after registering with local prefectural governments.

Q: Why was a new law passed now?

A: Even though the number of inbound tourists was increasing, there were not enough hotels available, so minpaku gained attention around 2015 as a way to accommodate visitors. However, unauthorized lodgings operated without registration led to trouble between neighbors and visitors due to things like noise and garbage. The new law was put into force to deal with the demand for more accommodation and expand legal minpaku services.

Q: What are the details of the law?

A: In principle, house owners must install fire prevention devices such as fire alarms, and prepare a list of lodgers' names. In consideration of neighbors, lodging is restricted to a maximum of 180 days per year. Failure to follow this rule will result in a penalty of up to 1 million yen under the revised Inns and Hotels Act.

Q: What other rules are there?

A: Each municipal government can additionally regulate areas where minpaku may be operated as well as the period the lodging is available. Along with the high cost of fire prevention equipment, the procedure is also complicated. There were about 60,000 minpaku before the law, but only 3,728 properties were registered as of June 15. Still, along with foreign companies, Japanese companies like Rakuten and convenience store chains are entering into related businesses, so minpaku are expected to gradually grow in popularity.

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