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Professional evictors target working poor

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New people spawned by new times breed new terminology. “Working poor,” borrowed from American English, is now solidly entrenched in Japanese. Then there are the types who prey on the working poor -- “oidashiya,” for example. Professional evictors.

Friday (July 31) introduces them and the hardship they cause to people whose lives are pinched enough to begin with.

The descent from temporary work into unemployment accelerated last year in a tailspinning economy. Gaps in Japan’s safety net have left many in a desperate plight. A parallel phenomenon is a weakening of human relationships that makes it difficult for apartment renters to produce a personal guarantor. Filling the void are profit-oriented companies that provide the service. By Friday’s count, 29 companies dominate the field. It’s a new, risky business, largely unregulated. The line between it and the "oidashiya" is a fine one, not clearly drawn.The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry says it is working on regulations. That’s too late for “Mr. A,” one of several "oidashiya" victims the magazine speaks to.

He’s 25 and living in Tokyo. Last year he quit his temp job, which was leading him nowhere, and enrolled in university on a partial scholarship. The scholarship money plus earnings from a part-time job would enable him to pay his 75,000 yen monthly rent, he assured his real estate agency. Since the scholarship money came in two weeks after the rent was due, arrangements were made allowing for late payment.

For three months, things went smoothly, but in January and February, his job earnings fell off and he slipped into arrears. He intended to make up the difference in March but came home on Feb 13 to find the lock changed and a notice pinned to the door advising him his rental contract had been terminated. The note was from his corporate guarantor, a company Friday identifies as “JCOC.”

Mr. A called them, but his explanations counted for nothing. “Why don’t you pay?” his interlocutor kept demanding. Finally Mr. A was grudgingly granted a month’s grace.

His rent, as per their agreement, was due on the 15th, but March 15 was a Sunday, which seems to have been the excuse for JCOC’s next action. When Mr. A came home on March 23, the apartment had been stripped bare; all his belongings had been removed.

A local consumers’ consultation center, with a lawyer’s help, managed to get his stuff back. Some of it had been damaged. Mr. A is currently suing the real estate agency. As for JCOC, its response to a query from Friday was, “JCOC has closed down. We have nothing to say concerning this incident.”

“You cannot terminate a rental contract simply because a tenant is late with the rent," comments a lawyer the magazine speaks to. "Clearly it is illegal to unilaterally throw the tenant out without proceeding through the courts.” Moreover, “forcible seizure of the tenant’s belongings may well amount to theft.”

Those regulations the Land Ministry promises won’t come a day too soon.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

31 Comments
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I bet 'Friday' had to pay JCOC a boat load of money to be his guarantor. I think rental companies have more to lose from this than the fake guarantor company. Surely, they lose a tenant, that though having a rough time, is honest and will continue to provide payments.

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Its a scam, Japan has to do away with guarantors for every thing. The landlord or the counterparty should bear the risk. The landlord should be the one buying insurance against this occurance.

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“Working poor,” borrowed from American English....lol, yeah its not borrowed from english english because of the possibility of living your life ( quite nicely sometimes) on benifits there.

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We found it SO ironic that, in our mid-thirties, married with kids, and earning more money than my husbands parents, we still had to ask THEM to guarantee our mortgage loan!!!

And then recently the daycare asked us to provide guarantors for our monthly daycare payments! My friend and I have bought hamko's in each others names and keep them handy for just such an occurence. We have an agreement where we just guarantee each others stuff. It's a joke!

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I really wonder about all of this. I have a friend who works as a professional evictor. He didn't have stories about being able to do much as far as getting people out of the apartments though. He must work for a legitimate company I guess. Apparently, it's not so easy to kick out the tenant in Japan and this case should be a slam dunk for the tenant. In the US there is a wide disparity between state laws. For example, my friend in Illinois bought a house and spent tens of thousands of dollars and several months fixing it up. He then made the mistake of renting it out to gypsies. Big surprise! They didn't pay the rent for 5 months but he couldn't evict them in that time. In contrast, in Texas... all you have to be is a single day late to legally evict.

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"Working Poor"? When did that enter the English language? What a whiny term. Of course, they are working; why wouldn't they be working? Is this term supposed to imply that it isn't fair that they are poor? Is "working rich" used as well?

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"Working Poor"? When did that enter the English language? What a whiny term. Of course, they are working; why wouldn't they be working? Is this term supposed to imply that it isn't fair that they are poor? Is "working rich" used as well?

Surprised you've never heard of it. I don't think it's whiny at all. It just describes people who are employed but still just barely scraping by (if even that), as opposed to those who are unemployed and poor.

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Several issues.

The working poor are a massive class of people in Japan now and a growing one. It is somewhat hidden by the fact that many people live in extended family dwellings. Without this safety net we would be seeing the same legions of people on the streets and living in cars and parks as we saw during the last great recession in the US.

The whole guarantee system for apartments is outdated and should be banned. It does not make sense for modern Japan and prevents more people renting. With all the added charges and give away money leached by land owners here, they should do away with this system in favor of a better set of laws to protect both renter and owner.

Companies that violate the law need to be held to accounts. Too often we hear "Gomen Nasai" or "No Comment" and these guys get off free. Jail their owners and managers who commit these crimes.

Japan needs to urgently do something for temp and part time workers to secure their lives and protect them. If the do not, the future is very dark. I personally know over a dozen people who were hard working temps in 2008 and are now working poor or out of work entirely. And my social circle is not that massive. It is something like 60% of people I know are having work or lack of work problems.
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Dubya. This term has been around for a long time. In very simple terms it defines someone who works but still cannot meet the line of poverty. Often it refers to people who work one or more full time jobs, yet cannot afford housing in the city they live in, cannot afford health care and live well below the poverty income line.

It is a sign of the devaluation of labor to levels where people can work hard and yet not survive.

A more liberal interpretation could include a common example where people work full time jobs that once provided a reasonable and stable income above the poverty line. But due to rising housing and other costs, these people are forced out of middle class status and into poor status as their wages fail to keep up with inflation in the city they live in.

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tkoind2 "With all the added charges and give away money leached by land owners here"

Small point here. This is what I used to think all those years of renting. Then I bought a place here in Japan, mortgaged it and rented it out. Every time the people moved out and new people moved in, I waited with my hand stretched out for the extra money to roll in. Not a bit of it. I actually had to pay the real estate people for the tidying up of the apartment! They made it look like new for the next tenant. I was out of pocket every time. It seems that it is the middlemen who collect from both ends. I don't know if this is the general rule, but it has been my experience. I finally sold the apartment this month.

I have huge sympathy for those who lose their address. Without an address you then cannot legally find work... and the whirlpool starts sucking.

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nandakandamanda -- now there are many internet cafes that let their regular customers (customers who literally LIVE in the cafe) use the addresses of the cares.. that way, the customers can apply for a job and etc. i think the idea is excellent :) although there are plenty of other people who dont have legal addresses and simply lost.. hmm.

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fishy, a bright piece of news that! Many thanks and more power to these places.

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It is sad that internet cafes and maga kissa are providing more for the worker poor than the nation. At least urban, tapped in young people have a solution. But just imagine what the legions of ordinary labor or regular workers are facing. And add to that the many who are single parents or care givers for elder relatives. No bright news there.

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on the other side of the coin is that there are people who rent places, live there for months without paying rent trashing the place in the process, then just abandon the place leaving all their junk behind. during that time its very difficult and expensive for the landlord to legally evict them and when they do leave he can't legally throw away their junk or they can make a claim against him when they ask for it back. so how is that fair to the landlord?

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What's the difference between regular bailiffs and 'evictors'?

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I rent out a place as well. The real estate agencies take a fee from both the renter and the owner. This is the norm. There are details that you can negotiate (who will clean and for how much, what has to be repaired and to what degree, etc.) I don't have a problem with that. They find me customers.

I don't know what people find "so outdated" about the guarantee system - I don't want a tenant who I have to worry about him paying or not. :( As far as the guy in the article, having your items removed is a bit over the top, but I would change the lock in a heartbeat in a situation like his.

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Seems the issue is the guarantor doesn't actually want to live up to it's obligation to guarantee the deal. So the obvious solution is to sneak in and evict the tenant illegally in order to minimize the losses. It's rough economic times and the guarantor should have had reserves set aside to handle the losses. Obviously that's not the case.

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with renting an apartment so hard, why doesn't the government get involved? Bribery I am sure is high on the reasons why. And the spew about "Japanese culture" crap.

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I think tenant has 3 months grace. Moreover guarantor firm doesn't have the right to do any of this. I feel for this guy, but he has to try hard to find a better part time job. He is young and bright, it can't rain every day - hope he gets this message.

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My 1st apartment here in Sapporo was with "Mstsui Biru" who said "gaijin dame" in our initial meeting. Well, the apartment got rented in my ex-girlfriend's name with the full understanding of the company that I would live there. They said it was fine, as long as she provided 2 guarantors and I paid 50,000 a year to one of these "professional" guarantor companies. I wondered to myself who would actually end up paying if I'd defaulted and was certain that it could be challenged in court. They gouge you any way they can.

I don't feel bad for some of the landlords on here and any tales of woe. If you're not willing to deal with riffraff, don't get in the rental business.

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The article does not state it, but this looks like a case where the property was not officially "rented" to the user. The new trend is to charge a "usage fee" instead of "rent". That way, the renter (user) is not entitled to the normal rights guaranteed by law to an apartment renter. It is basically the same agreement one would make to use a pay-by-the-hour conference room. Eviction in a legal domicile rental agreement is a very time-consuming process.

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The guarantor companies are a joke, I would rather pay a guarantor fee directly to the real estate agent that would be refunded when I leave... Stupid stupid system. The housing market is such a scam in Japan.

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Maybe this ought to be under "crime".

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RT -> you do this anyway. the guarantor rubbish is on top of that.

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i sympathize with you all. im looking for an apt at the moment and i start to get headaches thinking of the introduction fee, reikin, shikikin, 2-year insurance (that for some reason gets nullified when the person before me moves out...?), lock fees, 2-year renewal contract fee, guaranteer fee, kanrihi、contract cancellation fees(sometimes)

omg! so much crap!

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Well, it is simply a matter of who accepts risk. Guarantors are a necessary evil in a country where lawyers are expensive and legal processes work very slowly. I hated using them, but I do not have to anymore because I am not riff raff. If someone wants my business, they have to look at my paper and not my skin color. Probably most foreigners are still in the riff raff category, so you have to pay the riff raff tax.

So if the renter does not pay for the guarantor, who must accept the risk? It would be the owner, right? That would mean higher key money, higher rents, more rules, more hassles. Eventually, the market would collapse because people would rather bulldoze their buildings than complicate their lives. That is what I would do. My guess is that a lot of buildings are clearing less than their mortgage payments as it is.

And if you really think that the guarantors are making out like bandits, look at what their liability is. They are basically guaranteeing faceless riff raff to X amount of yen for a one time fee of Y. Only in Japan would this seem like a GOOD DEAL to the guarantor and the renter. And foreigners? Forget it. Who would guarantee the typical JT poster?

If you don't like renting, then buy. If you can't buy, why are you complaining?

In terms of social issues, having governments act as guarantors rather than putting up public housing seems like a good solution, but we know that will probably never happen, and it still leaves foreigners out in the cold.

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This guy is a deadbeat. The landlord had every right to get rid of him. The landlord should be forced to let him live in their place for free?

Be responsible, work hard, pay your bills & debts when due, don't sponge off the hard work of others.

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Eviction wihtout notice is illegal, and I hope he wipes the floor with this group as well as his landlord. Yes, the landlord has right. However no warning or notice was posted, as far as he knew the agreements were still fine.

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“You cannot terminate a rental contract simply because a tenant is late with the rent,” comments a lawyer the magazine speaks to. “Clearly it is illegal to unilaterally throw the tenant out without proceeding through the courts.” Moreover, “forcible seizure of the tenant’s belongings may well amount to theft.”

recently most landlords want not to evict those who're late to pay. new tenants are hard to come by

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What's the difference between this practice and Yakuza practices?

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Heard a story from my brother-in-law about the brother of one of his work mates.

This guy (a student at the time) was really loose with his money and sometimes would forget to pay the rent. As luck would have it, one month his missed his rent deadline and instead went out pub-crawling with his brother (my brother-in-law's friend) and a couple of other young chaps. They came home next morning half-drunk to find some very unsavory characters evicting this guy (well removing all his possessions from the flat). Anyway, the guy's brother told these chaps in no uncertain terms to put the possessions back in the flat. They refused. He said fair enough, YOU'RE NICKED! Sometimes it can be an advantage to have a brother who is a policeman.

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