Yokosuka City forcibly demolishes abandoned home

Yokosuka Higashiuraga 2Yokosuka City began the forced demolition of an abandoned home in Higashiuraga on March 13. This is the first forced demolition to be carried out in Kanagawa Prefecture and the third in Japan.

The wooden house, which was built sometime between the Taisho and early Showa periods, had a total floor area of 25 sqm. It was in a serious state of decay, with exterior cladding and doors coming loose in past typhoons. It became vacant after the owner passed away in 1988.

In 2012 the city received a complaint about the house and had repeatedly tried to contact relatives of the current owners, but with no success. The owners of the house did not own the land, and since the house did not appear on any cadastral maps, the heirs were not subject to annual property taxes.

The house was considered a hazard to the locals who often use the pathway running in front of the house as a shortcut to the station, and in December 2014 a removal order was issued. 

In January 2015, the legal heirs to the property officially forfeited their inheritance rights which meant that the city had to bear the 700,000 Yen (5,800 USD) demolition cost.

The house is located up a small pathway with stairs and is not accessible by vehicles. This made the demolition work tedious and time-consuming. It is excepted to take two weeks to remove the structure.

Yokosuka City is struggling with a growing number of abandoned homes, the majority of which are located alongside narrow pathways in hilly areas without vehicle access. As original residents pass on or move into aged care facilities, their homes are usually left empty. Demand from the next generation of buyers is almost non-existent due to the difficult access and poor condition of the existing homes. The two homes either side of this house are also vacant.

Yokosuka Higashiuraga
Image via the Kanagawa Shimbun.

The Chunichi Shimbun, March 14, 2015.
The Kanagawa Shimbun, March 14, 2015.

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