The month of March marks the end of the academic and fiscal years in Japan. And because is the busiest time of the year for hiring of new workers, job transfers, school matriculation and others, it's also the time for lots of people to change their residence.
Let's suppose you're in the market for a new pad, and you spot one that's pretty good. The location is favorable, the structure is solidly built, and the unit is sunny with plenty of storage space. It's close to a station, with convenient shopping. But the rent seems too good to be true.
Well, there's likely to be a good explanation for this: the apartment may have been the scene of what is euphemistically called an "unfortunate incident."
Flash (March 27) lists some of these not-so-prime properties. There's a 22.5-square-meter (1K) apartment four minutes on foot from Shiomi station in Tokyo's Koto Ward, in which a 23-year-old woman was murdered in 2008. The killer, a 33-year-old man, used a saw to dismember her body. The realtor was willing to come down 10,000 yen on the monthly rent to 59,000 yen, with no key money and just one month's deposit required.
One minute on foot from JR Takatanobaba Station is a 34.77-sq-meter (2DK) apartment that can be rented for 100,000 yen. It would normally command 124,000 yen, but earlier this month, its male resident was stabbed to death by an acquaintance. Now it can be yours for one month's key money and one month's deposit.
One minute from JR Ikebukuro Station is a 25.7-sq-meter (one room) apartment for 80,000 yen. Key money/deposit are negotiable. The property is in a building full of illegal businesses such as trading firms, massage parlors and others operated by Asian foreigners. Turf wars between rival gangs have also erupted. So bad is its reputation the building has been accorded the cynical nickname "Kowloon Walled City" after a famous lawless area that once existed close to Hong Kong's old Kai Tak Airport.
A 28 sq-meter (2DK) unit just eight minutes from Takenotsuka on the Tobu Isesaki Line can be rented for 50,000 yen/month, 17,000 yen off the regular asking price. The problem: it's two doors away from where a male occupant hanged himself. The man was apparently a heavy drinker who regularly fought with the landlord and other tenants.
Unappealing properties do not always involve a death or tragedy. An apartment in Tokyo's Meguro Ward reportedly has been having trouble attracting new residents due to a 63-year-old male tenant who has turned his unit into a notorious "gomi yashiki" (rubbish heap).
Japan's real estate law obliges realtors to inform any prospective tenants of anything nasty involving the previous tenant. But there's a loophole: this requirement applies only to the most recent tenant. Thus, once the place has been rented a second time, whatever occurred prior to that need no longer be reported.
To get around this loophole, since September 2005, realtor Manabu Oshima has operated a website called "Oshima Teru," which gleans data from police reports and the media, and uses Google maps to indicate what he calls "stigmatized properties" around the nation.
In general, rents for the stigmatized properties are usually listed at normal rates but can be negotiated down by 20 to 30% of their normal market value.
In addition to being cheap, such places are also likely to have undergone a thorough renovation.
Considering the possibility of incurring additional moving costs if the place doesn't work out, people are advised to think twice before taking up residence in such units.
"I've often heard of cases where the tenant complained of residual smells left behind by a decomposing corpse, or developed insomnia due to the psychological pressure from what occurred in a room," an anonymous real estate agent tells Flash. "Before deciding to move into such a place, you should consider things carefully."© Japan Today