1. Gio · September 6, 2012

    Good piece. But you left out the central idiocy of the entire guarantor situation: that is, the landlord gets a security deposit (hoshokin) equivalent to one or two months rent, which in other countries is considered precisely for the purpose of covering the last month’s rent if someone doesn’t pay up. Of course all too many landlords in Tokyo see this as just additional “gift money”…


    • catforehead · September 6, 2012

      Right. From our understanding, demanding “hoshokin” is a practice specific to certain areas of Japan, mainly Kansai. It’s more or less a matter of terminology–“shikikin,” “shikibiki,” etc. In any case, we covered most of these supplemental fees in an earlier column. Here’s the link.



  2. billy · September 8, 2012

    It’s the big secret of the apartment rental industry in Japan, but actually a hoshonin (guarantor) has no legal obligation to pay anything to the fudosanyasan or owner for any money that is owed by the person(s) he or she acted as guarantor for.

    99.9% of Japanese don’t know this and thinking they have a legal obligation, most Japanese in a guarantor situation comply and pay up..

    If the hoshonin doesn’t pay up, aside from making noise and threats about taking legal action, there is NOTHING the fudosanyasan or owner can or will do—–and they both know it.


    • billy · September 26, 2012

      I’m surprised no one has commented on my above assertion regarding guarantors. Perhaps you think I’m blowing smoke but not only do I have personal experience in this area after renting in Japan for more than 30 years, for many years I also dated the daughter of the 2nd biggest fudosanyasan in a major western Japan prefecture—–and during this time I learned this and several other secrets of the Japanese apartment rental industry.

      For example?

      The every 2-year contract renewal and contract renewal payment is also bogus. And if you decline to sign the contract and pay the renewal fee, there is nothing the landlord can do as long as you keep paying your monthly rent.

      Most of the cases involving guarantors being asked to pay up are related to non-payment of rent (for however many months). But for any apartment owner, the prime directive is to have all units occupied and producing monthly rental payments—–that’s it. And following this directive, if there is a renter who isn’t paying, the only objective is to get that renter out of the apartment sooner than later so that the owner can fill the unit with someone who will pay.

      If the owner is also able to get money from the guarantor, that’s just icing on the cake. If not, well, that’s just one of the prices of doing business in the industry—–they all know it and move on.


  3. Troy · September 18, 2012

    Good article. One item hit me though:

    “That policy will have to be addressed as the population shrinks and a smaller portion can afford new homes”

    what, exactly, is holding up home prices here? Why can’t the market find a lower price level to clear, as the population declines and supply/demand imbalances lessen if not disappear?

    The age 20-40 population is going to shrink by 9 million people by 2030 — this is not a guess, this is baked into the demographic cake already.

    Vacancy is the ultimate — if only — price-killer in real estate.


  4. Stan · October 18, 2012

    Kanagawa Prefecture assists the elderly, the disabled, and foreigners find rental accommodation, see http://www.pref.kanagawa.jp/uploaded/attachment/443593.pdf


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