Posts Tagged ‘rental’

Annals of cheap:

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Redecorate your one-room apartment in retro (read: cramped) style!

“Deflation” continues to be the word on everyone’s lips when they talk about Japan’s economic problems, but so far one area has resisted the price-reduction trend: apartment rents. That may be finally changing. According to a recent article in the Tokyo Shimbun, it is now possible to find a one-room apartment with bath and toilet in the 23 wards of Tokyo for less than ¥50,000 a month. Generally speaking, since the mid-’80s the only units in the center of the city that were less than ¥50,000 were those in old wooden apartment buildings with communal toilets and no bath, meaning you had to patronize the local sento (public bath). Tokyo Shimbun credits the rise of the Internet with the reduction in rent, since more real estate companies are publicizing properties on the net and, as a result, apartment-seekers have more of an opportunity to compare prices. Before the Internet, you had to basically visit every real estate office in the area where you wanted to live, which is a time-consuming endeavor.

One young entrepreneur, Kenji Yoshioka, is already profiting from the trend. A former employee for an investment fund who handled real estate, the 33-year-old set up a company called A Power Home last April and launched a website called Yachin Go-man-en Ika that advertises only apartments which are ¥50,000 a month or less. He was responding to the reality that younger full-time workers were less well off than their predecessors, who had bigger benefit packages, more assured salaries and, most importantly, the use of company housing. Young people wanted cheap apartments near their workplaces but didn’t want to give up basic amenities, like a private toilet and bath. Yoshioka decided to collect this information in one easy-to-navigate website. It was an immediate hit and in October he even set up his own real estate company.

In most cases, the cheap apartments that Yoshioka publicizes are “sleeping,” meaning that they’ve been vacant for some time. Normally when people go to realtors and specifically ask for apartments that are less than ¥50,000, the agents turn them away because the commission isn’t really worth the time and effort. Landlords, however, are desperate to rent such places and many have remodeled them to make them more attractive while keeping prices affordable, adding things like sound-proofing and even elevators. Many attempt to attract women tenants (who make up more than 50 percent of single apartment-seekers looking for cheaper units) by allowing pets. Tokyo Shimbun mentions a one-room apartment with a loft, kitchen, unit bath-with-toilet, and even a window only ten minutes walk from Itabashi Station that costs ¥48,000 a month. There are even some properties listed for as low as ¥30,000 that have baths and toilets.

According to the real estate research company Home’s, the average rent for a one-room apartment in Tokyo has decreased by 5.3 percent in the last year alone. In addition, security deposits on such units have decreased by 8 percent and gift money by 11 percent. Since the vacancy rate for apartments in general in Tokyo is more than 10 percent (undoubtedly higher for cheap one-rooms) it’s not likely that rents will go up in the near future.

Landlords getting tough with families of suicides

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Big sleep: Government suicide prevention campaign for salarymen

Big sleep: Government suicide prevention campaign for salarymen

The annual number of suicides in Japan has topped 30,000 for the last 12 years, and according to the Sept. 27 issue of the Yomiuri Shimbun landlords aren’t going to take it any more. The newspaper reports that an increasing number of property owners and realtors are suing families of tenants who kill themselves. Rental units where suicides occur are more difficult to rent out afterward, and in most cases landlords have to reduce the rent substantially to get someone to move in.

The situation has become so dire that a Sendai-based organization called the Japan Suicide Survivors Network has asked the ruling Democratic Party of Japan to pass some sort of law that would protect families of suicides in these instances. In one case, a young woman killed herself in an apartment in Miyazaki Prefecture, and while her funeral was taking place the landlord showed up and demanded ¥6 million so that he could hire a priest to “cleanse” the property. The family, too upset to argue, paid him.

Continue reading about landlords and suicides in Japan →

Got those rental blacklist blues

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

real estate black list

A front page article in the Aug. 15 Asahi Shimbun reported that 15 “yachin hosho kaisha” (rental guarantee companies) are planning to get together to compile a blacklist of rent scofflaws. Rental guarantee companies are a relatively new phenomenon. Normally, when you rent a property in Japan you need a guarantor to cosign the rental agreement.

For residences, landlords have traditionally insisted on family members, invariably parents, regardless of the age of the parents or their incomes relative to the prospective tenants’. Sometimes this is impossible because the parents are dead or otherwise estranged from the prospective tenant. And sometimes it’s impossible because the prospective tenant is a foreigner. (Many foreigners have their sponsoring employers cosign their rental agreements, which landlords prefer, anyway.)

When the usual guarantors are not options, the prospective tenant can hire a guarantee company, which usually charges a nonrefundable fee equal to about one month’s rent, both when the tenant signs the initial rental agreement and when he or she renews it.

Read more about rental blacklists →

Option to owning

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Nikoniko Rentacar

Three years ago we sold our car because we rarely used it and the cost of keeping it seemed ridiculously high. However, that had been the situation for at least five years before that, so why did it take so long to come to a decision? Mainly because we thought we might need a car for emergencies, transporting something, or the occasional trip out-of-town. We didn’t see any alternative.

For instance, we thought car rentals in Japan were prohibitively expensive. Twenty years ago, they were prohibitely expensive. Only businesses rented cars, which made sense given Japan’s superior rail network. But rental charges have come down considerably in the past decade, and earlier this summer two nationwide car rental services opened that offer extremely low rates.

One's Rentacar

Nikoniko Rentacar keeps their operating expenses low by stocking used vehicles and tying up with struggling gas stations who can provide them with facilities for maintenance and storage. The cars are small and start at ¥2,525 for half a day. They now have 88 outlets throughout Japan and plan to open 31 more in the near future. And since they are always on the look out for franchisers, the network will grow bigger with each month. By 2011 they estimate they’ll have a thousand outlets.

Then there’s One’s Rentacar, which charges a little more, ¥2,625 for half a day. Associated with Gulliver, the used car juggernaut, One’s now boasts about 60 outlets but says it will have about 300 by the end of the year. They even offer one hour rentals (¥1,000), collision insurance (¥1,050), and optional car navigation systems (¥500).

Anyway, it’s one more excuse not to hang on to your car.


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