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When booking a trip, deciding where to stay might be the most important part. Travelers no longer have to settle for hotels or hostels on their vacations — now there are Airbnbs in practically every major city. But some governments are enacting regulations that make it harder for Airbnb hosts to operate.
Japan is one country affected by these regulations, as a private home-sharing law took effect there on June 15. This law requires citizens to have governmental permission to operate their Airbnb. While the legislation is meant to help hosts — it allegedly lowers the legal risks for them — it also decreases the number of Airbnb listings travelers can choose from.
In fact, listings have dropped by nearly 80% in Japan with this law, from 62,000 in the spring to 13,800, according to the Nikkei Asian Review. Hosts had to register before June 15, and if they didn't, they'll be unable to operate their Airbnb. But the accommodation site stopped displaying unregistered listings ahead of the June 15 deadline. Once registered and approved, though, hosts are able to rent their spaces for up to 180 days a year.
Japan isn't the first market to enact these kinds of measures, either. San Francisco lost about 50% of its listings between August 2017 and January of this year after introducing similar regulations. Both Airbnb and HomeAway hosts had to comply and register with the city. With more governments considering this kind of legislation, it could easily become an issue more travelers have to face.
These new laws might help hosts, but for travelers, the result is fewer lodging choices — at least initially. With pending stays being cancelled for hosts who fail to comply, vacationers are left in a tight spot. Other Airbnbs could be unavailable, for one, forcing travelers to find alternative lodging.
While hotels are occasionally cheaper than Airbnbs, depending on where you're staying, that's not always the case. And with many alternative options defunct, travelers could need to rely on hotels or hostels. Some could even have to cancel their trips altogether, which could result in myriad cancellation fees and forfeiture of deposits.
Of course, there are other factors besides price to consider when booking lodging. Still, Airbnbs tend to feel more cozy than hotels or hostels, and for good reason. They're literally another person's home, which can make them an affordable option for a getaway. With fewer Airbnb listings, travelers might have to choose between saving money and being comfortable.
Readers, do you prefer Airbnb over hotels? Will these new laws change how you vacation? Let us know in the comments below.