The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) is considering a further expansion of allowances to encourage the redevelopment of old condominium buildings. Under current legislation, if at least 80% of owners agree, a building that does not meet current earthquake codes can be sold off to a developer. The MLIT may extend the 80% vote to include buildings that have deteriorated exteriors and old plumbing.
The system allows apartment owners to sell off their old building and land to a developer who can then demolish and rebuild.
The old earthquake codes apply to buildings built before June 1981. However, even buildings built to the newest codes may soon be edging towards being 40 years old. By 2022 there will be 250,000 units in 40+ year old buildings across Japan. By 2037 this number will increase to 2.5 million units.
There is no precise lifetime of a house or apartment building in Japan. It depends on numerous factors, including how well it is maintained, how well it was built, whether the layout suits current trends, and where it is located. It’s possible to find houses over 300 years old that are still occupied today, while others that are demolished 10 years after they were built simply because the land was more desirable to the buyer. It is a similar story for apartment buildings, although they have had a much shorter history in Japan.
As of April 2019, there have been just 244 cases of condominium buildings redeveloped across Japan. Over 4/5ths of apartment owners must agree before a condominium can be redeveloped. This can be a very difficult process and it is not unusual for owners to vote against redevelopment.
MLIT, April 1, 2019.
The Nikkei Shimbun, August 2, 2019.
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