Buying a "Haunted House" in Japan, Things To Know About "Jiko Bukken"
A “jiko bukken”or haunted house is a property where the previous occupant died of unnatural causes. Common causes of death to get a property classified as "Jiko Bukken" include suicide, murder, fire or neglect. If you are able to find one of these properties and have no problem with the previous history you may be able to get a steep discount. There are multiple agents who specialise in selling only "Jiko Bukken" properties.
"Under the Real Estate Transaction Law, the real estate license-holder has a legal obligation to inform the tenant or buyer of any known unnatural deaths that occurred in the property. The details of the accident must also be explained in the “Important Details and Particulars” document that is signed at the time of contract.
For properties for sale, although the law is not specific about time lines, it is generally assumed that the agent will inform the buyer if the death occurred within the past 10 years. To be on the safe side, some agents will inform buyers regardless of how many years have passed.
For properties for rent, the real estate agent is obligated to inform the very next tenant who moves into the property after the incident, but there is no obligation to inform any future tenants. Some less-than-ideal real estate agencies may rent the apartment to one of their staff for a short period before re-listing the apartment at the full market price.
Natural death is normally not a reason to classify a house as "haunted" and therefore need not be disclosed.
If the incident occurred in a an apartment and did not take place in the unit you are buying or renting it also does not need to be disclosed. However if the event was something that brought attention to the entire building, such as a former resident jumping from the roof of the building, then it normally would be disclosed as a safekeeping practice."
What if my agent didn't tell me the property is a "Jiko Bukken"
If the seller/landlord or real estate agent intentionally omits this information from the rental or purchase contract, the contract may be considered void. You may be able to take legal action against the agent in court in matters such as this.
All agents know this law so it is very uncommon if this information is not disclosed to the potential buyer.
Why should you buy a "haunted property"?
Usually these properties can be very cheap. If you see a unit in a building that is priced significantly lower than similar units, chances are that it is because it is a "jiko bukken".
Usually foreigners do not have the same superstitions concerning these properties as Japanese do so this may also be an advantage to the foreign buyer.
Why you should not buy a "haunted property"?
Obviously if you believe in supernatural activity this may not be the right kind of house for you.
Another thing to take note of is that banks also take the "haunted" status of the property into account when assigning loans and may deny your loan or assign a lower value to the property based on its history.
You will have a limited pool of buyers if you ever need to sell the property. Since many Japanese still believe in this superstition most Japanese would not even take the time to consider buying or even renting the property that is considered "haunted". You may only be able to sell it to another foreign buyer who will also expect a steep discount because of the property status as "haunted".
How can I know if my property is "haunted"?
The easiest and fastest way is to ask the real estate agent. You can also try asking around the neighbourhood as longtime residents should know the history of the nearby houses or apartments.
reference: Japan Property Central