Airbnb Japan cancellation debacle: You have been cancelled

If you  are traveling to Japan and have booked accommodation through Airbnb, then you could be facing a harrowing reality – you have been cancelled!

Airbnb recently was forced to cancel bookings under a new Japan law that enforced stricter rules on its private lodging services market, which requires hosts to get a license by June 15.

Last year, Japan legalized home sharing. The new law states private lodging hosts  are required hosts to register their listing and display a license number on their listing page by June 15.

While Airbnb says that thousands of their hosts have updated their listings, regulators at the Japan Tourism Agency made a surprise announcement on June 1, instructing hosts without a license number to cancel upcoming reservations booked before June 15. And these even included those who were already waiting for their license to be approved or in the midst of registration.

If you’re set to arrive in Japan in mid-June. According to Airbnb, “any reservation scheduled for guest arrival between June 15 and June 19 at a listing in Japan that does not currently have a license has been cancelled.”

If your reservation is after June 19, you’re in the clear – if the listing is still available on Airbnb. However, contact your host and get their government license number.  If your listing has disappeared, Airbnb has said that unless the Japanese government reverses its situation, it will automatically cancel and refund “any reservations at listings in Japan that have not been licensed within 10 days of guest arrival.”

Here’s what you need to know if you’re affected:

  1. Airbnb will either give you a refund or help you find an alternative accommodation.  It is implementing a Japan Travel Response Plan that includes a US$10 million (SG$13.4 million) fund to cover additional expenses for those affected, like those who have to fork out more money to find new accommodations or even flight-change fees.  Airbnb said in a release, if your booking for a reservation on or after Jun 15 is cancelled because the host doesn’t have a licence number, it will provide a full refund and a coupon worth at least 100 percent of the booking value for a future Airbnb trip. In addition, guests will also receive a US$100  coupon for an Airbnb Experience.
  2. To apply for reimbursement, you need a copy of the receipt for your cancelled reservation, as well receipts of “unexpected and unavoidable additional expenses” that resulted from the cancellation, such as flight-change fees.  You also need to submit a brief explanation of these charges. Email these to [email protected] They aim to respond to requests within two to four weeks.
  3. Refunds will be issued through the payout method on Airbnb. Those who don’t have one on file will be prompted to add one. For more information, click here.

In March, Airbnb had over 62,000 listings in Japan. That number has dropped to 13,800.

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Author: Nell Alcantara

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