Several legal reforms are under discussion that could see heirs obligated to update property titles following inheritance. These proposed changes are intended to make it easier to identify the owners of abandoned or unused land across the country.
The government is considering introducing legislation that would require advance notice to be submitted when a foreign national is purchasing land in or nearby areas considered to be of national importance. The draft bill is expected to be submitted to parliament sometime this year.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) is planning to create clear guidelines regarding the sale and rent of stigmatized properties. Currently, confusion and uncertainty about what is and isn’t a psychological impact have led to numerous disputes between tenants and landlords.
On February 22, the Cabinet approved a bill that will allow land with unidentifiable owners to be forcibly sold off by a court-appointed trustee, thereby helping to free up some of the vast swaths of idle land across the country with missing owners.
As at the end of August 2018, Kyoto City had only received 129 applications for short-term letting under the new minpaku laws that were introduced in June. Of those, 33 are located in exclusive residential zones where properties can only be rented out to guests for a maximum of 60 nights between January 15 and March 15, with some exceptions allowed for traditional machiya townhouses and homes where the host also lives on the premises. This pales in comparison to the total number of 7,028 applications made nationwide. In Kyoto Prefecture, excluding Kyoto City, only 18 applications have been received as at September 14.
The owner of an apartment in Tokyo who had been illegally letting it out for short-term ‘minpaku’ accommodation has been successfully sued by the building’s owners association. The Tokyo District Court ruled that the owner had violated the building’s bylaws and ordered the man to pay 970,000 Yen (approx. 8,700 USD) to cover the owners association’s legal fees.
On June 6 Japan’s House of Councilors approved a new act concerning the use of abandoned land. The new law will go into effect from June 2019.
This law will grant local municipalities, private corporations and non-profits the right to use idle land for up to 10 years. This applies to land where the owners are unknown or cannot be contacted. If the owners make themselves known and object to the use of their land, the land will be returned to them at the end of the 10 year term. If the owners do not object, the term may be renewed.
The two developers of a 107-unit condominium in Tokyo’s Bunkyo ward that lost its building permit two months prior to completion have lost their appeal against the city in a court ruling on May 24.
Construction of the 8-storey ‘Le Cinq Koishikawa Korakuen’ building began in 2013. In early November 2015, just two months prior to completion, the city revoked the building’s construction certificate due to a major design flaw, effectively halting construction. Under the Building Standards Act, multi-dwelling buildings must have emergency escape stairs providing a direct exit outdoors. This building’s emergency stairs exited into the garage, which is 2.5 meters above ground level and 19 meters from the outside.