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Business

Airbnb to offer one-stop support for rental hosts in Japan

Service sets out to handle everything from paperwork to furnishings

Airbnb hopes to sign up more properties by lowering the entry bar for landlords.

TOKYO -- U.S.-based Airbnb will start a comprehensive support service for hosts in Japan in an effort to ensure a sufficient number of local listings amid an upcoming regulatory change and growing competition.

A new company under Airbnb partner Evolable Asia will serve landlords who want to outsource holiday rentals on the Airbnb platform. By working with about 15 businesses, this new company will handle everything from regulatory filings and furnishings to cleaning and guest support on behalf of property owners.

For instance, administrative scriveners will be available to file the proper paperwork. A Tokyo Tatemono subsidiary will clean the properties and supply fresh linens. To make the rentals more attractive, Bic Camera will help deliver electronics and furniture, while SoftBank Group will provide communications services like Wi-Fi for guests. A call center will be set up to field complaints and insurance will be provided.

Japan will relax regulations on home rentals, known here as minpaku, in June, but the new legal framework requires hosts to register their properties with local authorities and provide adequate services, such as regular cleaning and a customer service hotline for guests.

Airbnb plans to remove noncompliant listings from its website by the time the new law is implemented. The company aims to grow its listings by enabling property owners to get into the home rental business easily.

Airbnb is the overwhelming leader in Japan's home-sharing market with about 60,000 listings and roughly 5 million guests a year. But competitors like Rakuten and KDDI are setting up their own platforms as Japan gets ready to legalize the practice. Support for landlords appears to be shaping up as a battleground. Rakuten, the operator of a popular online marketplace, recently announced a one-stop service for landlords as well.

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