The central government will soon make it easier for people to rent out “minpaku,” which are vacant apartments or rooms in houses, to travelers and vacationers.

It aims to relax the requirements to gain approval to run a private lodging business in the hopes that lowering the barrier to entry will help boost availability in rural areas.

A growing number of people want to rent out their properties as private lodging in the countryside, yet many areas do not have enough private-lodging administrators who are willing or qualified to manage those real estates under the entrustment of the owners, government officials said.

The transport ministry and industry groups are hoping that boosting availability will make better use of vacant residences, which are increasing in number, and help attract more visitors to Japan.

As of Dec. 14 last year, Japan had only 18,514 residences available for private lodging and just 2,524 registered private-lodging administrators, according to data provided by the government and other sources.

Under the new rules, the transport ministry will allow new entrants to officially register as private-lodging administrators after finishing a new training course, even if they have no qualifications or related business experience.

Legally, administrators must ensure the hygiene and safety of those borrowing the space and respond to complaints if the owner of the property is absent.

To qualify as an administrator under the central government’s guidelines, one of several requirements must be met, such as having at least two years of experience in housing transactions and management, and holding a license in either real estate brokerage or the management of apartment houses.

Real estate agents meet these conditions, but they are concentrated in urban areas and few ever enter the minpaku rental business.

Last year, private-lodging industry groups called on the central government to ease regulations to make it easier to become an administrator.

The transport ministry is aiming to have the rules revised and open the new training course as early as this summer.

Ministry officials expect the course will consist of about 20 hours of study and seven hours of lectures, including on how to prepare written agreements.

They expect a range of new applicants, from tourism and accommodation business operators to agricultural cooperative workers who have experience related to private lodging in farmers’ houses, along with “local vitalization cooperators” who are commissioned by local governments under a national framework.


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