Kyoto City might limit some Airbnb-type rentals to just January and February months

Kyoto City has started official discussions that may see Airbnb-type short-term rentals in certain residential zones limited to just the January and February months and for no more than 60 nights in total.

Hosts looking to rent out places in primarily residential neighbourhoods in central Kyoto, including areas around Kinkaku-ji temple and Nanzen-ji temple, may find themselves limited to the off-season winter months. Under the proposal, properties located in exclusive residential zones (Category I and II Exclusively Low-Rise Residential Zones, and Category I and II Mid/High-Rise Oriented Residential Zones) may only be rented to tourists for the months of January and February, with a maximum limit of 60 nights over those two months. There may be some relaxation of the rules for hosts who live in the properties or live nearby.

The city has determined that these locations require the most protection to existing residents to avoid a decline in qualify of life due to a surge in short-term accommodation.

To encourage the preservation and use of the city’s iconic machiya-townhouses, additional regulations on earthquake resistance and fire safety may be imposed on hosts of these properties.

The basics of the proposed plan are expected to be released on November 4th, with the City’s ordinance to go into effect from June 15, 2018.

Kyoto City has approximately 5,000 minpaku-style accommodation facilities. Last year, an estimated 1.1 million tourists were thought to have stayed in unlicensed and illegally operated B&Bs. The surge in these accommodation offerings, many in quiet residential neighborhoods, has led to a flood of complaints about noise and garbage, leaving city officials scrambling to find a resolution. In the past 12 months, the city has received over 2,200 complaints made to their support center.

Some say the proposed rules will not have much of an effect in the very central parts of Kyoto because most of the land does not have exclusive residential zoning.

Although the planned introduction of the new short-term leasing laws, scheduled to go into effect later in 2018, may have been touted by some as the opening of the market, it has, in many ways, limited options for hosts even further. The nationwide rules limit the number of nights to 180 nights per year, with local cities having the power to introduce further restrictions.

The Nikkei Shimbun, October 26, 2017.
The Sankei Shimbun, October 26, 2017.
The Kyoto Shimbun, October 25, 2017.