Can I rent my home out on a short-term basis, like on AirBnb, in Japan?

  • Currently, any leases for less than 30 days require a license.
  • Failure to meet licensing requirements could result in a jail or a fine, depending on the type and severity of the violation.
  • Most homes and apartments do not qualify under current licensing regulations.

 

Recently, the Japanese government has been considering deregulating the hotel and short-term letting industry to provide more accommodation options for foreign tourists in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With the latest data putting Japan’s residential vacancy rate at 13.5%, this reform has been touted as a way to help fill up some of Japan’s 8 million empty homes, of which half are rentals.

AirBnb is already quite popular in Japan with listings ranging from traditional farmhouses in the countryside to contemporary apartments in downtown Tokyo. A large majority of these listings, however, are unlicensed and would not qualify under current licensing requirements.

Under the Hotel Business Law, however, approval from the prefectural governor is required before you can lease out a residential property for less than 30 days. Failure to obtain proper permission can result in arrest and fines. In the past two years, two foreigners have been arrested for operating illegal hotels in Osaka and Tokyo.

The proposed revision that is still under discussion would reduce the minimum stay to 7 ~ 10 days. Properties must still meet certain requirements, such as being in the correctly zoned location, having a building certificate, having a minimum floor area of 25 sqm, have lockable windows and doors, proper walls between rooms, adequate fire escapes, information provided in several languages, meet hygiene requirements and meet construction and fire codes. Renting out a room on a nightly basis would still require the landlord to meet additional requirements including having a front desk and obtaining a license to operate.

In 2017, a major revision is set to be introduced that would limit the maximum number of days that a property can be rented on a short-term basis to just 180 days per year. Local governments may have the authority to reduce this limit to an even lower number. Penalties are also expected to increase to up to 1 million Yen for people found to be illegally letting their property.

Secondhand apartment prices in July 2014 – Tokyo Kantei

According to Tokyo Kantei, the average asking price of a 70 sqm (753 sqft) second-hand apartment in Tokyo’s 23 wards was 41,740,000 Yen in July, up 0.3% from the previous month and up 4.7% from last year. The average apartment age was 22.3 years.

In central Tokyo’s six wards (Chiyoda, Chuo, Minato, Shinjuku, Bunkyo and Shibuya), the average apartment asking price was 58,040,000 Yen, up 0.8% from the previous month and up 8.9% from last year. The average apartment age was 22.2 years.

The average price across greater Tokyo was 28,250,000 Yen, down 0.2% from the previous month but up 2.2% from last year. The average building age was 21.6 years.

July rental data – Tokyo Kantei

Japan apartment rent July 2014

According to Tokyo Kantei, the average monthly rent of a condominium apartment in greater Tokyo was 2,558 Yen/sqm in July, down 2.0% from the previous month but up 1.0% from last year. The average apartment size was 59.92 sqm and the average building age was 18.9 years.

The average rent in Tokyo’s 23-ku was 3,174 Yen/sqm, showing no change from the previous month and up 2.5% from last year. The average apartment size was 56.38 sqm and the average building age was 17.1 years.

Office vacancy rates in July 2014 – Miki Shoji

Mercros Bldg Tamachi Front Bldg
Mercros Building (left) and Tamachi Front Building (right)

According to Miki Shoji’s office report, the office vacancy rate in Tokyo’s five central business districts (Chiyoda, Chuo, Minato, Shinjuku and Shibuya) was 6.20% in July, down 0.25 points from the previous month and down 2.09 points from last year. This is the lowest level seen since March 2009 when vacancy rates were 6.05%.

The vacancy rate in brand new buildings was 17.41%, down 0.68 points from the previous month but up 4.69 points from last year.

The following office buildings were completed in July:

  • Mercros Building, Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku: 9 floors; 6,980 sqm floorspace.
  • Tamachi Front Building, Shiba, Minato-ku: 9 floors; 5,730 sqm floorspace.
  • PMO Shiba Koen, Minato-ku: 8 floors; 3,500 sqm floorspace.

Apartment price to income ratio worsens nationwide, but improves in Tokyo and Osaka

New apartment price to income ratios Tokyo

According to Tokyo Kantei, the average price of a brand new apartment in Japan in 2013 was 6.59 times the average annual income (up 0.06 points fro 2012), while a second-hand apartment (10 years old) was 4.58 times times the average income (up 0.02 points from 2012).

The rise in apartment prices has outpaced the increase in average income. The average annual income across Japan increased by 3.85% from the previous year to 4,320,000 Yen in 2013.

Meanwile, the average price of a 70 sqm second-hand apartment in Japan was 19,800,000 Yen in 2013, up 4.38%. The average price of a brand-new apartment nationwide was 28,620,000 Yen, up 5.07% from the year before.

In greater Tokyo (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba Prefectures), the price-to-income ratio of brand new apartments was 8.80 times (+0.06 points). The ratio for second-hand apartments actually fell 0.05 points to 6.07 times. 

Building age vs. distance from station – which has the biggest impact on rent?

According to data released by Tokyo Kantei, an apartment building’s age has a bigger influence on rent than the distance from the nearest train station.

The difference in rent between an apartment less than 3 years old and a 30-yr old apartment is about 30 ~ 40%. Meanwhile, the difference in rent between an apartment less than a 3 minute walk from the nearest station compared to one 11 ~ 15 minutes away is around 20%.

Secondhand apartment prices in June – Tokyo Kantei

According to Tokyo Kantei, the average asking price of a 70 sqm (753 sqft) second-hand apartment in Tokyo’s 23 wards was 41,630,000 Yen in June, down 0.3% from the previous month but up 4.8% from last year. This is the first time in 7 months that prices have fallen from the previous month, although they continue to remain above 2013 levels. The average apartment age was 22.0 years.

In central Tokyo’s six wards (Chiyoda, Chuo, Minato, Shinjuku, Bunkyo and Shibuya), the average apartment asking price was 57,570,000 Yen, down 0.1% from the previous month but up 7.7% from last year. The average apartment age was 22.0 years.

The average price across greater Tokyo was 28,310,000 Yen, down 0.4% from the previous month but up 2.2% from last year.

Office vacancy rates in June – Miki Shoji

Iidabashi Grand Bloom
Iidabashi Grand Bloom

According to Miki Shoji’s office report, the office vacancy rate in Tokyo’s five central business districts (Chiyoda, Chuo, Minato, Shinjuku and Shibuya) was 6.45% in June, down 0.07 points from the previous month and down 2.01 points from last year.

The vacancy rate in brand new buildings was 18.09%, down 2.33 points from the previous month but up 6.49 points from last year.

It is not just large-scale office buildings that are experiencing better conditions, but mid-size buildings are also seeing a boost in demand. All 11 buildings developed under Nomura’s mid-size office brand ‘Premium Midsize Office (PMO)’ are almost fully occupied. Mitsubishi’s renovated small-to-mid sized office building in Kanda is also almost fully occupied. The building has attracted several IT-related tenants who want the freedom to design their own office space. 

June rental data – Tokyo Kantei

Tokyo Rent June 2014

According to Tokyo Kantei, the average monthly rent of a condominium apartment in greater Tokyo was 2,609 Yen/sqm in June, down 0.5% from the previous month but up 2.7% from last year. All areas within greater Tokyo saw rents decline from the previous month.

The average apartment size was 59.37 sqm and the average building age was 18.7 years.

The average rent in Tokyo’s 23-ku was 3,174 Yen/sqm, down 0.7% from the previous month but up 2.4% from last year. The average apartment size was 56.38 sqm and the average building age was 16.9 years.

Secondhand apartment prices in May – Tokyo Kantei

According to Tokyo Kantei, the average asking price of a 70 sqm (753 sqft) second-hand apartment in Tokyo’s 23 wards was 41,740,000 Yen in May, up 0.6% from the previous month and up 5.4% from last year. The average apartment age was 21.7 years.

In central Tokyo’s six wards (Chiyoda, Chuo, Minato, Shinjuku, Bunkyo and Shibuya), the average apartment asking price was 57,600,000 Yen, up 0.6% from the previous month and up 9.3% from last year. This is the 10th month in a row to see a month-on-month increase. The average apartment age was 21.7 years.

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