Airbnb says forced to cancel bookings under new Japan law

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TOKYO (AFP) – Rental site Airbnb said yesterday it had been forced by Japanese authorities to cancel thousands of reservations ahead of a new law regulating short-term rentals, apologising for the “extraordinary disruption.”

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“This stinks — and that’s an understatement,” Airbnb said in a statement, adding it would fully refund cancelled reservations and was also creating a $10 million fund to compensate affected travellers.

The popular holiday rental site had already suspended the listings of owners who had not obtained a registration number required under the law that comes into force on June 15.

But yesterday it said Japan’s government had required it to cancel all reservations with hosts that have not yet registered, even if they were in the process of seeking a licence.

“This is understandably frustrating, especially since many hosts are close to acquiring their licence,” the statement said.

“It’s particularly disruptive for guests who have a trip to Japan planned for the weeks and months ahead.”

The company said the fund would help travellers who incur extra costs as they rebook accommodation at short notice.

The initial cancellations affect bookings between June 15 and June 19 but could be expanded.

“Going forward, unless the government reverses its position, we will automatically cancel and fully refund any reservations at listings in Japan that have not been licensed within 10 days of guest arrival,” it added.

The number of Japan rentals on Airbnb had already dropped dramatically after the site over the weekend began suspending listings from hosts who have not yet registered with the government.

The new law requires owners to obtain a government registration number and meet various regulations that some critics say are overly strict.

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