How to Get Minpaku License in Japan

How to Get Minpaku License in Japan

Ever dream of listing your property in Japan as a vacation rental? Internet apps often offer low barriers to entry, but government regulations can be a stopping point for most people.

Thankfully, things are getting easier. In this article, we'll explain the New Private Lodging Law (民泊新法 = minpaku shinpō) and how to register your property and get a minpaku license in Japan.

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What is the new Private Lodging Law? 

In the past, there were primarily 2 ways to run an accommodation business in Japan: 

  1. Get a license under the Hotel Industry Law.

  2. Receive a special permit for designated zones. 

However, in June 2017, a new law was passed that allowed homeowners to operate vacation rentals by informing the appropriate government offices. 

Before the new law, lodging businesses in Japan were limited to hotels, inns, hostels, and boarding homes. Additionally, to open a lodging business, one had to go through the difficult task of acquiring a license from the local government. 

But with the new private lodging law, policies have been simplified. Homeowners can now rent out their property with relative ease. To do this, they need to meet the requirements listed in the Residential Accommodation Business Act (住宅宿泊事業法 = jūtaku shukuhaku jigyō hō).  

Responsible parties when renting out a property in Japan, from Minpaku Portal Site.

Responsible parties when renting out a property in Japan, from Minpaku Portal Site

How to rent out a house in Japan

To rent your house as a minpaku in Japan, you must register your property at a local public health center. In addition, you must also satisfy the conditions in the New Private Lodging Law

The main requirements are detailed below:

1. Vacation rentals/private lodgings must fall into one of the following categories

  • Houses where owners currently live

  • Houses up for sale or rent

  • Houses that owners and tenants use irregularly, such as vacation homes or second houses

2. Business is limited to 180 days out of a year

You must get a hotel license if you plan on running your business for more than 180 days. Note: Some cities have short term rental regulations that restrict operations to less than 180 days.

3. The house must have basic living facilities

Basic living facilities include a kitchen, bathroom, toilet, and bathing area with 3.3m2 of space per person in each room. 

Note: These structures do not need to exist independently. For example, unit baths, in which one facility has multiple functions, are also acceptable. 

4. The owner must have appropriate fire prevention measures in place 

Fire prevention steps may vary by area. Check with the local fire department for specific details for your area. 

Owner-on-premise vs. owner-absent: How are they different? 

There are two ways to run a vacation rental in Japan, based on if the owner stays on the property. 

Owner-on-premise type (家主居住型 = yanushi kyojū gata)

The owner is present during guests' stays and is responsible for managing the property. 

Duties include the following: 

  • Maintaining hygiene

  • Securing the safety of guests

  • Providing comfort and convenience to guests

  • Keeping a guest list

  • Providing explanations on how to prevent damage to the surrounding areas

  • Handling complaints 

Owner-absent type (家主不在型 = yanushi fuzai gata)

If the number of rooms in the house tops 5, or if the owner is absent during guests' stays, the property falls into the owner-absent type. This type of vacation rental must employ a management company to handle the abovementioned duties. 

To summarize, a third-party business registered with the Minister of Land must handle upkeep if the owner is absent.

How to get a minpaku license in Japan

This step-by-step guide outlines how to get a vacation rental license in Japan. 

Step 1. Schedule a preliminary consultation.

Book a consultation at the local public health center to understand the required procedures for registering your vacation rental. 

Step 2. Complete all pre-notification instructions.

During your consultation, you'll receive a rule book and a checklist of pre-notification instructions, such as the following: 

  • Notify neighbors of your intention to start a lodging business.

  • Ensure safety measures are in place.

  • Confirm whether there are rules for renting out your residence.

  • Outsource the vacation rental operation to a management company (if the owner is absent).

  • Coordinate with the fire department and other agencies per Japan's Fire Safety Act. 

Step 3. Submit your papers through the Minpaku Portal Site

You must submit the following documents: 

  • A notification form, downloadable from a city's official website. 

  • A certificate proving the applicant is not bankrupt. 

  • A written oath confirming the applicant does not fall under any grounds for disqualification. 

  • Floor plan of the residence, etc. 

Note: The papers you need to attach will depend on the property type and whether you'll be on-premise during a guest's stay. You can also hire a company to file the paperwork on your behalf for a fee.

Step 4. Receive a private lodging business certificate from the city ward. 

If your application passes, you'll receive a sign from the city. You must display it near the front door or other easily recognizable locations. Once you have posted it, you're ready to start your business! 

Example of a Private Lodging Business sign from Minpaku Portal Site.

Example of a Private Lodging Business sign from Minpaku Portal Site.

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What’s the difference between a hotel license vs. vacation rental registration in Japan? 

You must obtain a hotel license if you don't meet the vacation rental requirements. For example, if you operate your business for over 180 days in a year.

To further explain, a hotel license is needed if the conditions below apply:

  • You charge a lodging fee.

  • The facility works beyond socially regular acts in one's life.

  • The business operates continuously (over 180 days).

  • It is not a permanent place of residence.

Additionally, some areas don't allow you to operate a vacation rental business due to government restrictions. In that case, you may want a hotel business license to start your business. 

In closing

Listing your property as a vacation rental and getting a minpaku license in Japan is easier than ever. But there are still several steps to take before starting your business. To ensure you have the information you need to get started, check out the government’s Portal Website for Private Lodging (available in English). You can learn more about the Inns and Hotels Act and a detailed comparison of the different systems here

Other helpful links:

Hotel Business Act (English Translation)

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