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Realtors have hard time renting stigmatized properties


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."

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They should offer people to live in these places for 1 month free of charge. Then if they don't mind it, make a longer term plan. If they don't want to stay though, they would be free to leave. That way they could try to rent it out again without having to disclose the details of what happened there. Some people may not go through the hassel of looking for the history of the place so they could rent it at full cost without worrying about scaring people away.

Either that, or rent market them towards people who want to see ghosts....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The Ikebukuro apt. with the illicit businesses and gangs is definitely different from the other examples. I've always thought that Asians are among the most superstitious people in the world. If one of these properties suited my needs I wouldn't hesitate to rent it at a discounted rate.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No thanks.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

They should offer people to live in these places for 1 month free of charge. Then if they don't mind it, make a longer term plan.

A nice idea, but I can guarantee that such a system would be abused, with some people happily moving apartments every month to ensure never having to pay rent.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is so obvious it hardly warrants an article. Along with construction defects and the like, "unfortunate incidents" such as murder or death needs to be disclosed to buyers/renters. So yeah, I would assume anyone can guess that "realtors have hard time renting stigmatized properties."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Kaminarioyaji: That may be true, but if they vacate the premisis, then the real estate agent no longer needs to announce about the places past so they could find winning tenants more easily. Also, they could put the 1 month tenents name on a watch list for if they try to go to another place for free...they could easily refuse to rent to this person a second time for free citing that they had difficulties dealing with the situation of their last apartment.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

*willing tenents .... winning situation for the agent :P

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Takadanobaba property "Only one months key money" after a murder event? I seriously almost spit out my coffee laughing.... Shouldnt BE any key-money anyways. Do these landlords have any sense of reality? (let alone realty)

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Very nice website though, is there any way to use it to find vacant caveat emptor properties? My interest is Stoked

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Interesting. Could anyone share the link to that website?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We found a big place near Kitano-cho in Kobe, really nice area, beatiful building. When we asked why the rent was so low, they told us that someone committed suicide by sticking their head in the gas oven. DH was saying 'There's no such thing as ghosts, what a bargain!' but, no thank you....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"One minute from Ikebukuro station"

That only sounds like an advantage if you are rushing from the train to lock yourself into your apartment to avoid the guys speaking Chinese hanging in front of your building. But living in constant fear of your neighbors isn't the answer.

Why not find a room farther away from Ikebukuro. Wakoshi etc. out near Saitama would be a lot quieter, probably cheaper too, which makes up for spending more on train fare to get into central Tokyo.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

(I should add that it was years ago, the bargain no longer exists :-D)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

no problem with me... my wife no be so keen on living in place where someone was murdered... but people die ALL the time. It is life. Not sure about the place with "Turf wars." But otherwise I could not care less. @iceshoecream agreed. anyone one want to share that website??

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When we have borrowed or rented a house we have been asked to try and not die in it. We have promised to try and make it to the car park.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I gotta think this is the case in any country.... maybe even more so in other countries. A 10% or 20% discount actually might be on the low side if an average were calculated across different countries.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

paulinusa. They should start an agency that is foreigner friendly for these places. Discounted units would draw us in because we are not so superstitious. If it isn't the site of problems now, can't imagine why not living there.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Also in English and French.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

tkoind2 > dont think there would be enough scale to make a viable business model on that. Pity though.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Many of these properties in which there was a murder or suicide on the premises are labeled as having "告知事項". You can do an Internet search for such properties or ask your real estate agent if they're holding on to any of these.

Here's a link to Yahoo 不動産 for such properties.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That text came out a little funny so here's the link again.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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.

oh my god.. how could anyone ever sleep in that apartment? I wouldn't stay there if it was free!

2 ( +2 / -0 )


and i was just about to ask if it was still availlable, but then i read your second post :(

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sorry about that, Dennis!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

when I was looking for a place together with my wife, we found this very nice house in a quiet, yet central place in Tokyo. the rent was also very convenient. however my wife would not hear about it, since the place was close to a cemetery. nice and quiet... as my mom said: don't be afraid of the dead, they can't do any harm anymore, be afraid of the living ones, they do plenty of harm :)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

why not just have a Shinto priest or a Buddhist monk come and chase away the bad spirits?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

key money... one of the most frustrating things to renting in this country

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think I have a new art-time job; part-time renter. I rent the questionable apartment for a couple of months, then move out. My pay? Rent plus key money plus deposit plus 50,000. And the real estate agent can rent it out without disclosing the 'unfortunate incident.' Win-win for everyone. Except the renter after me, of course.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

borscht@you've obviously never heard of the Japanese expression "hikkoshi bimbo". Assuming these places are not furnished you'll have to pay someone to haul your possessions to the next location, and that can run into money as well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sounds like a goldmine for gaijin. Think I lived in a couple of those places myself... lol.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My husband and I bought and are living in the house where the former owner died. No ghosts yet :P

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The most off-putting repulsion to me is 'residual smells left behind by a decomposing corpse'. Other than that, cheap & good rentals are hard to come by.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Shouldn't be a problem if they had a proper cleaning crew inside it, some specialise on that type of stuff(here and overseas).

We had one apartment(1K) right outside our station, went for 1/3 of normal rent in the building due to a suicide. The Apartment building was only 6-months old.

For cheap and affordable rentals contact your local "social security or family affairs section" and see if they got contacts with a real estate shop(most do).

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@timeon - picking a house next to a cemetery is one of the best things I've ever done. No noisy neighbors, and very cheep. Also, my ex-wife's family scored a mansion and a private island the 1920's for a song because there had been a murder in it. No ghosts, or at least they were genteel ones if they existed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nahaman, try telling that to my wife. I loved the place (I love quiet places!), but she didn't wanna hear about it. We finally got a nice place, but waaay too expensive I personally don't have anything against cemeteries, I like their quiet, somber and somewhat melancholic mood. I've had a girlfriend back home and we sometimes used to walk through the cemetery (it was a big, clean and full of flowers one), it had a certain sense of romanticism

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@ smithinjapan

You know, I completely agree. The place I lived at last year, someone was shot and killed. I never got no discount (in Canada).. If I honestly saw a great place, condo, or house, and the price was right/discounted... Yeah I'd take it. I HIGHLY doubt the killer will be back to the same house assuming they are locked up.. and it's not like those who have committed suicide are coming back to life, so the place is mine.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

timeon - u reminded me.... i only did it once, but it was quite a bit more than walking.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm trying to rent out my house in tokyo. But I confess, there have been three unexplained deaths there: a hamster and two goldfish. Anyone interested? Hamster cage and goldfish bowl included. no extra charge.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


One can never truly relate to this story until they have been rained down on with maggots from the above apartment...spawned from a corpse that had been rotting for over a month during the lingering heat waves of last September.

Not a friend, family member, nor work place to take notice or care...

Rather it was the “gaijin" downstairs (my friend) who came to a traumatic epiphany one eve (me being summoned to take witness) when that rotten stench that not even KabiKiller (a powerful disinfectant) could take away (coupled with our well-fed friends who had squiggled their way down from the cracks and holes of the above flooring/ceiling onto ones futon)...turned a nagging suspicion into reality. The final “hinto” being a seeped-over mailbox and an undeniable reek coming from the shower/bath ventilation that could only lead to one conclusion…

There is a guy dead and rotting in the apartment above me.

Needless to say the Japanese route of nonsensicality was taken…The English-school Company was called and instead of the proper authorities being summoned immediately, the major real-estate agency was notified (in the morning of course as to not disturb the Wa). What happened the following day can only be left to speculation, as my friend and I were asked to go to work, despite what had happened the previous evening.

All that is known is that Yakuza-like stiffs (from the real-estate company) were sent to help move my friend from his larvae-ridden suite that very day (after work that is)…not even bashing an eye-lid as to what they had probably witnessed being the first to crack open the above apartment’s door…They helped gather all of my friend's things…and proceeded to sweep everything under the literal and proverbial carpet.

This obviously wasn’t the first time for these kind gents…just another day at the office.

On the brighter side…in exchange for calling the ready-to-move-in apartment company before calling the police, my friend was moved into a much dapper suite in a better area of town free of cost…or was it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They should offer people to live in these places for 1 month free of charge. Then if they don't mind it, make a longer term plan. If they don't want to stay though, they would be free to leave.

It would be much better (and less prone to abuse) if the landlord allowed an initial 1 month lease at the negotiated rate, followed by a longer-term lease if there are no further problems.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Does anyone know if the people that rent after these incidents are treated differently? Would the gaijins be treated with superstition because they live in a place where something bad previously happened? I kind of like the idea of redeeming a reasonable place and the cheaper rent. (I would draw the line on safety and the aforementioned particularly gruesome events.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I refuse to move in anywhere with Keymoney point blank; If everybody did the same then this unscrupulous practice would be a thing of the past. Unfortunately there are some people with too much money, and/or too little sense who pay it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Close to the intl school where my kids went there is a large, modern house in a phantastic location (Nishi Azabu). Never seen it occupied in the 15 years I drove past there. Apparently, a celebrity committed suicide there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I refuse to pay key money as well! I also heard that even after you pay key money there is also a renewal fee after a certain amount of time passes. I'm not sure how long. To me, that's just wrong. I'd love to buy a place that has been discounted simply because something bad happened but my girlfriend would have none of that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Apparently, a celebrity committed suicide there.

Ohhh! celebrity ghosts increase the rent. You'll never have a cocktail party conversation lull again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My husband bought a house in Koshigaya,great location,only 15 years old and was a 4ldk.For only 700 man.I said what a bargain!!! I was planning the reform alredy when one night hubby asked if i believe in ghosts.... Turns out the owner of the house hang himself in the second floor after his wife left him taking his 3 kids with her.I just felt sad for the poor lad and proceed with the reform planning until i told a friend that i was planning to move to such a house. Are you crazy! Yamete!! its not about obake but Japanese are very superstitious so prepare because your kids will be bullied in school,and nobody will come visit you,and that was it.I'm way more afraid of tiny bully kids than obake.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i think thats everywhere. unless u find ghost lovers

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bring a black light stain detector to any apartment and prepare to be shocked.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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