Airbnb Japan offices raided by regulators on suspicions of antitrust violation

The Snippet:

Airbnb, while denying all wrongdoing, said on Friday that Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) raided their local offices last month on suspicions of the rentals site violating antitrust laws. The news came from Airbnb Japan, which reported the incident to Reuters.

The Story:

JFTC officials reportedly made an on-site inspection of Airbnb’s local offices and have seized certain documents. The raid was carried out under the suspicion that the company had asked its users to not list their properties on rival websites.

The company is cooperating with the authorities in any way it can, and has issued this statement via a Singapore-based Airbnb spokesman:

“All hosts and partners in Japan who list properties on Airbnb are able to list them on other platforms, and we will work with the JFTC to address any questions they may have.”

Regulatory actions against Airbnb are on the rise; why?

Airbnb and similar services are seen as predatory by the hotel industry across the world because it takes away customers who would otherwise have booked accommodations at traditional establishments rather than individual private properties.

In addition, community groups have decried such services for driving up property prices and contributing to housing shortages, especially in cases where landlords buy properties for the sole purpose of letting them out to services like Airbnb.

This and other issues, such as community complaints about noise and safety, have so far been insurmountable hurdles to making regulations more relaxed around short-term rentals.

Overwhelmed by discontented locals as well as aggressive lobbying from the traditional hotel industry, city councils have little choice but to start cracking down on such services. In fact, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if a local hotel in Japan were involved in a tip-off to the JFTC that led to the raid being conducted in the first place.



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