Photo/IllutrationUnits of this apartment building in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward are said to have been used for temporary lodging “minpaku” services. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

More than 30 percent of local governments are set to regulate “minpaku” services, or short-term rentals of private homes or rooms to tourists and other lodgers, an Asahi Shimbun survey found.

Some even plan to impose a ban on minpaku in residential areas or limit the services to weekends only, according to the survey. This may impact a new law being introduced in June that rubber-stamps such accommodations.

The government's Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) is not happy about the cautious approach of local authorities.

“It is not appropriate in light of the purpose of the new law, which aims to spread legal minpaku services,” an agency official said.

The new law states anyone can provide minpaku services for up to 180 days a year if the owner of the accommodation registers with the prefectural government.

Non-localized businesses operating websites that allow people to list, find and rent lodging must register with the JTA.

The law is aimed at countering a serious shortage of hotels and other accommodation facilities due to the massive spike in numbers of tourists in recent years and also to stem a proliferation of illegal lodgings that has become a major social concern.

Although the new law recognizes minpaku as legal, a total of 144 local governments (Tokyo and 46 other prefectures, as well as Tokyo’s 23 wards and 74 major cities) may impose restrictions on their period of operations by establishing a local ordinance when it is deemed “necessary to prevent the deterioration of locals’ living environment.”

Many local government assemblies are expected to debate draft ordinances concerning minpaku regulations during February and March sessions.

Of the 144 local governments, 47, or 32.6 percent, plan to enact a regulatory ordinance, according to the survey.

Two, or 1.4 percent, replied that they already had one ready to implement.

Nineteen, or 13.2 percent, were either undecided or considering doing so.

Seventy-six, or 52.8 percent, said they don't plan to establish an ordinance at the moment or they will consider one if, and when, a problem arises, the survey found.

Local governments controlling urban areas appear willing to take a tough line as they have already been beset by rampant illegal minpaku lodgings over the years. Neighbors have complained about loud noise or garbage bags left in hallways by lodgers.

Tokyo’s Ota Ward will impose a ban on minpaku services in residential areas, while Meguro Ward will allow them only from Friday noon to Sunday noon.

The JTA’s guidelines for local governments concerning minpaku services, compiled in December, states that regulations that restrict minpaku services are inappropriate.

The guidelines, however, are not binding.

A senior agency official said the JTA will call on local governments to explain the reason for adopting what it regards as “inappropriate” ordinances and possibly ask them to review them.

(This article was written by Takeho Morita and Hideaki Ishiyama.)