80% of Japan's Airbnbs Were Just Removed

And then there were 13,800. That's how many Airbnbs are left operating in all of Japan, after the home-sharing site removed at least 62,000 homes, apartments, and rooms this weekend from its inventory, reports Japan's Nikkei newspaper. The move is in response to the country's new home share–or minpaku—law that comes into effect June 15, requiring Airbnbs be registered with the government and limited to a certain number of rented days. It's the first of what could be many international culls, as Parisian courts prepare to rule on the legality of more than 40,000 listingslater this month.

Japan has been cracking down on the largely unregulated home-sharing giant over the past year, as more and more tourists flock to the island country. As of next week, hosts have to register for permission to share their home with the federal government, under the hotel and ryokan laws that promote fire and emergency safety. Hosts also won't be able to rent out their homes for more than 180 days a year. While the rules seem strict, and involve a little legwork on the host's part to get a registration number, it's a better system than what exists now: a grey area where any Airbnb could run afoul of complicated (and sometimes non-existent) local laws. "We have long-supported the home sharing law in Japan, we worked with the government to craft it, and we believe it will help more people share their homes on Airbnb. The lack of clear rules for home sharing has made many people reluctant to take the next step and host. The law in Japan solves that problem," Airbnb said in a statement.

Condé Nast Traveler's social media director Rachel Coleman encountered that complicated space in Kyoto this April. While traveling with her family, Coleman rented an Airbnb with enough rooms for everyone—and one that was much cheaper than finding hotels rooms for each family member. "As soon as we walked in, I wanted to go get a hotel," she says. Despite no mention on the Airbnb's listing, there were strange, aggressive signs posted all around the apartment, from "You are free to associate with any Kyoto local people but please keep your distance with neighbor live nearby here (sic)" to "never disclose information about Airbnb listing, why you stay, [or] hosts." The signs in the otherwise normal Airbnb went so far as to warn Coleman and other guests to look out the peephole to ensure no neighbors were in the hallway before exiting. "I never would have booked there if I had known... Worst Airbnb ever," she says.

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As we reported, existing bookings, even those in un-registered homes, are still valid. "This weekend we reached out to those hosts who have not yet obtained their notification number to let them know that they will need this to accept any new bookings. We have informed those hosts that we are in the process of turning off future listing capabilities," the company said in a statement. The listings were just taken down so no one else can book them going forward—at least until that home or apartment is registered.

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