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I previously wrote about a creepy unsolved murder case where I revealed that my former house may have been the house in which above mentioned creepy unsolved murder occurred. Of course, I don’t want it to be the actual house because learning that would make me uncomfortable. I don’t want to live in a place where a homicide occurred and I wouldn’t want to know about it if I did. Who would ever want to live in a house where someone was killed? Well, surprisingly, some people would and the number of them is actually increasing. There’s a simple answer why this is, too: It’s cheaper.

Whether you avoid such houses no matter the cost, or actually prefer the stigmatized house more than a normal one because of the price, today you and I are going to explore how to find out if a property in Japan comes with a dark history and we’ll also try to uncover some tips to help you to either avoid or choose such a place.

What Is Stigmatized Property?

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Stigmatized property is called 事故物件 (じこぶっけん/juko-bukken), 訳あり物件 (わけありぶっけん/wakeari-bukken), ブラック物件 (ぶらっくぶっけん/black-bukken), or in legal terms 心理的瑕疵物件 (しんりてきかしぶっけん/shinriteki-kashi-bukken) in Japanese. 瑕疵 (かし/kashi) means flaw; defeat; blemish and a property with “kashi” is a place that buyers or tenants may shun for reasons that are unrelated to its physical condition or features. Such reasons include murder, murder-suicide, family suicide, individual suicide, solitary death and arson. On top of that, it includes things like whether or not a gangster organization (yakuza) used the space, or if a religious cult exists nearby.

The Law And A Loophole

noose

Photo by Scott Clark

Although both the civil law of Japan, as well as the building lots and building transactions business law (what a mouthful) dictates that realtors to inform any prospective tenants of any “stigma” involving the previous tenant or property, the law doesn’t actually state what specifically that stigma is. Therefore, the realtors themselves have to decide what exactly is worth informing prospective tenants about by referring to precedents. In fact, it seems to be pretty difficult for realtors to judge because there are various precedents which could change depending on the situation.

For example, one precedent indicates that the prospective tenant needs to be informed for at least two years following some form of stigma, whereas the other said that it has to be 20 years, though the average accepted duration is typically between 5 to 10 years. There was also a precedent stating that the tenant has to be informed of such incidents 10 years after it happened unless a different tenant has already lived there.

This precedent created a loophole: the requirement of informing tenants of a stigma applies only to the most recent tenant and once the place has been rented a second time, whatever occurred prior to that need no longer be reported. Because of this, many people just changed the registered tenant’s name to their family member’s, or even hired someone to temporarily live there. This rampant, immoral method has actually caused a lot of hassle in the courts. For this reason, there is now a consensus among real estate companies to inform the prospective tenant of the stigma if the incident happened within the past 10 years or if the prospective tenant is the third registered tenant after the incident, though, again, it is still left to the realtor’s or owner’s discretion.

First, Simply Ask the Realtor

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So now let’s suppose you’re in the market for a new apartment, and you spot one that’s pretty good. The location is favorable, the structure is very durable, and the unit has plenty of storage space and gets a lot of sunshine. It’s also in close proximity to a train station and convenient shopping places, but the rent seems too good to be true. Tintintin~♪ Bingo♪

If that’s the case, you are likely to find that the apartment may have experienced an “unfortunate incident.” In general, rent for stigmatized properties is usually listed at over 20% less than normal. Even if it is listed at the normal rate, you’re likely to be able to negotiate the price down by 20% or more, so long as you know that the stigma exists.

So, say you do find a place that is priced at the normal market value. How can you figure out about the stigma then? One thing that may set off some warning bells is if it was renovated. The place looks brand spankin’ new and it’s only this price? Or, even more suspicious, what if only part of the location is renovated. The flooring in this particular room is so beautiful but the walls are kind of old and shabby looking… or, why is the bathtub so new and high-tech when the toilet’s oshiri button doesn’t even move back and forth?

These are the kinds of things to look for, so if you notice any of these things or anything else that seems fishy, you can simply ask the realtor if this is a place with an undesirable history. As long as the realtor is a good person and follows the consensus, you will be informed, especially when you directly ask. You may also want to check if the neighboring units are occupied too, because it’s common for people to move away if there was an event or issue at the unit you’re looking at.

So, whether you’re trying to avoid a stigmatized unit or if you’re trying to find one so you can negotiate the price down, those are the things you need to do.

What To Ask?

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Let’s say you do ask and they say “Nope, not stigmatized.” You know that look in their eyes. They seem uncomfortable and are making weird movements, just like a lier would! Something is wrong here…

One way to get past this is to ask for more details. Here are some questions that will help you to figure out if it is actually that type of place:

  • How long did the previous tenant live here and how long has the unit been vacant (exactly when did they move out)?
  • Did the tenant move out within two years of moving in?
  • Did they move when it wasn’t normal moving season, such as March? Why?

If the realtor hesitates to answer or tells you that he/she doesn’t know the reason, you should keep being skeptical. With enough digging, you might make the person slip up and tell you something they didn’t intend to, or you may just catch them in a lie.

Furthermore, if you are enthusiastically recommended a unit with phrases that sound as though the person is rushing to sell the place, such as “I’ve never seen such a good place”, “I’d like to live here if I were you”, or “It’s so rare that such a place is available at this price”, then you may want to think twice. Maybe it is too good to be true. Oh and by the way, if you are seeking a stigmatized property and don’t mind being honest about that with the realtor, feel free to reveal that information right where you stand. In that case, no one would lie. They’re probably having trouble selling the place and that might come at a relief to them. That being said, maybe you could say that out front and then catch them at their lie.

Second, Go To Well-Disclosures Real Estate Site

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If the situation arises when you’ve asked the realtor your questions, but didn’t get enough confidence boosting information and thus are still skeptical, the next thing you should do is to check out the real estate sites, such as SUUMO, which discloses stigmatized information.

As for SUUMO, not only are they unafraid to reveal stigmatized property but they’ve also even attempted a new and unique approach to offloading stigmatized property. In a very positive way, they try to convince the potential renter that it’s actually a great thing to live in a place where someone violently died! The following is what they wrote for the unit.

事故物件♪
人気の事故物件♪初期費用が少額♪TDL近い♪バストイレ付き♪ー初期費用の少ない事故物件でました!一人暮らしなのに一人暮らしではないような感覚にさせてくれる寂しがり屋さんにオススメのお部屋です♪

Stigmatized Property♪
Popular stigmatized property♪ Low initial cost♪ Near Tokyo Disneyland♪ Private bath and toilet♪ It’s a stigmatized property, which means low initial cost! You’ll be living alone, but you’ll never really feel like it. This room is perfect for lonely singles♪

It came with pictures of not just the apartment and surrounding area, but also of a cute, friendly ghost character ‘お化けのQ太郎(おばけのきゅうたろう/Obake-no-Q-taro)’, which means ‘Ghost Q-taro’ and was made by the creators of ‘ドラえもん(Doraemon)’, 藤子不二雄(Fujiko Fujio).

The price was 23,000yen(US$230) per month with no deposits for the 107 square-foot unit with a kitchen, balcony, bathroom, and toilet. It seems that this unique idea succeeded in its purpose and the ad was taken off shortly after.

事故物件・訳あり物件情報センター(Jiko-bukken・Wakear-bukken-Jouhou-center), which is Stigmatized Property Information Center is another website on which you can find these properties, as well. Although they only cover the Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba areas, they actually focus solely on stigmatized property for their business, whereas SUUMO only partly deals with such properties. So if you are looking for such a place, you can search for an ‘only stigmatized property’ realtor.

Third, Check Out Oshima Teru

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Oshima Teru CAVEAT EMPTOR is an up and coming website operated by Manabu Oshima since September 2005. The site’s main purpose is to map out every property where unnatural deaths occurred and to show you the ‘stigmatized properties’ with burn marks from fires. Originally, it focused on the greater Tokyo area, but now they have extended into a near worldwide coverage including North America and Europe. They glean data from police reports and the media, visit the actual places or the courts to learn the correct addresses, and use Google maps to indicate where all the “stigmatized properties” around the world are. This site is getting popular and they even made a Google app. This site is also for free so to all of you are thinking of moving I’d recommend searching for a stigmatized property on Oshima Teru to make a stigmatized property your own.

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However, despite the worldwide coverage of Oshima Teru, most places are limited to major cities. So, what can you do now? Unfortunately, your last resort may be to walk around and ask the neighbors by yourself: “This unit is very cheap compared to the average price in this area, so is it only this unit or is everyone in this apartment building paying the same price?” Although it may be a difficult, time-consuming way, you may be able to gain fruitful information not only regarding stigmatized properties, but also about your potential landlord’s or neighbors’ personalities.

Finally Make Your Own Decision

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Photo by Les Chatfield

Though I listed the ways to figure out if the unit is stigmatized, most likely you will just be informed by the realtor because they will be afraid of being sued for hiding it from you (should you move in and find out later). Some real estate companies actually went bankrupt because of having a bad reputation from hiding such things.

Interested in buying or renting a stigmatized home? Go ahead! Although, there are also some cases where tenants complained of “residual smells” being left behind by decomposing corpses, or tenants who developed insomnia due to the psychological pressure of knowing what occurred in their unit, so you should also consider those things before making a decision. But, if you value a good deal over trivial things like your psychological health, I won’t hold you up any longer.

Me? As I told you earlier, there is no way that I could move into one of those places or learn that I used to live in one. However, my curiosity was far too great and I actually felt compelled to find out whether or not I unknowingly lived in stigmatized house. Unfortunately, or perhaps luckily, I couldn’t find any verifiable proof that the incident I wrote about in a previous article actually occurred there, perhaps because it was such a old case. Personally, I’m glad that I didn’t find anything out. I guess it will just have to remain an eerie possibility for my mind to nibble on.

So what about you? Think you could live in a stigmatized property? Where would you draw the line? Is suicide okay but not murder? Or perhaps the line is between murder suicide and regular murder? Let me know your opinion and where you stand. Oh, and if you’ve lived in a stigmatized property, tell me all about it, I want to know!

  • Beetle BANE

    The idea of cheap things is always appealing to me, and in that sense I wouldn’t mind a home in which someone was brutally murdered via some sort of live-skinning incident or something… However, the SUUMO ad mentioning how one ‘will never feel alone’ and using that little ghost mascot guy creeps me out and kind of makes everything awkward again.

  • Satsujin

    Oh, Japan. Your murder rate is extremely low, why go crazy with those paranormal beliefs?

  • Karla Bravo

    For the price of course I’ll take it…

  • zachary T

    I would draw the line at murder. murder implies someone somewhere might come back to the scene of the crime, I would be more worried about that than ghosts. Also I have lived in a place that was haunted, did not find out until later, but it certainly solved some mysteries like cold spots, weird sounds and other creepy feelings I had in the house. at the time though, I thought it just had a creaky but super efficient air conditioner ^_^;

  • CC

    Every time I move, I already assume the place is haunted. It takes me a long time to realize that my new closet is monster-free. I figure if someone (or something) hasn’t jumped out at me by now, it’s not going to.

    That being said, when you think about it, people die in strange ways all over the place. A few years back, a kid was killed at a popular train station. Did thousands of people stop using that station? No. So why would a house be any different?

  • Matéo Viard

    I think I could perfectly live in one of them, it actually brings me special curiosity if it’s about mass or individual suicide. I would live in one, as long as the house doesn’t smell of dead bodies ! When I move to Tokyo, I wouldn’t mind asking what happened, I’m so curious ! Such a great article, long time since I’ve been waiting for one like this, thank youu ^^

  • Saimu-san

    I’ve grown up around places where people have been killed (my home town was decimated in the worst loss of life in Scotland during WW2) so I wouldn’t mind living somewhere where there was a suicide or murder. I’d actually be put off by a property where a death was accidentally caused rather than deliberately because then there could be a physical problem with the house that might cause another accident.
    My last three homes have also never been far from a cemetery but I still feel awkward about seeing gravestones on a day to day basis. I find where people’s bodies are lying to be more depressing and uncomfortable than where they died. I went to a cemetery last month and I hate walking over graves to get to the one I came to visit. Thankfully the one my relatives are buried in has been putting in pathways so I don’t have to do that when I visit the more recent grave.

  • Mami

    Really? You wouldn’t mind a home where someone was brutally murdered!? Whoa, you are brave. Halloween is almost there. You must like that event too:D I found that little ghost pretty cute:P
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHc8rAM2SxY

  • Mami

    I’m glad to hear that you like this article. Are you planning to move to Tokyo someday?(^v^)

  • Mami

    It’s tempting, isn’t it?

  • Mami

    Wow, that sounds pretty spooky! (((((((( ;゚Д゚))))))))ガクガクブルブルガタガタブルブル

  • Mami

    That’s a really good point.

  • Mami

    Wow, really eh? Where in Scotland are you from, if I may ask?

  • Mami

    Yeah, I see. What is it like in your country?

  • Beetle BANE

    Well it is morbid and a real downer, but my miserly cheapness would react before my sense of superstition and taboo.
    Also, Halloween is boss! I hope more tasty and devious articles come up to really set the mood further. <3

    P.S., that song is cute, but that ghost really creeps me out. Why are his lips so luscious?

  • Flora

    I’ve lived in haunted apartments before, so the idea of a ghost or brutal murder (in the past) doesn’t really bother me. So long as it isn’t a mean or violent spirit, the past is the past.

    In the meantime – new stuff, no neighbors, and cheap rent?? Where do I sign up?!

  • Matéo Viard

    Yes, in two years time, during my university degree (Politics and Japanese) ! (^-^)

  • Katie

    I’m curious as to whether or not I live in a stigmatized house. It’s an old Japanese house way in the countryside, two story, and I only pay 30,000 yen a month. I wonder if they gave me such a cheap place because I’m a foreigner and don’t know any better? Anyways, weird things do happen though they’re not really frightening. My light is on every morning when I wake up though I turn it off the night before. I suppose if there is a ghost I don’t mind, I just wonder if it’s a secret or something.

  • Mami

    Actually, the little one’s too. They are just experimenting with nude lip liners and having a blast trying to achieve those Angelina Jolie lips!

  • Mami

    Right on!

  • Mami

    It seems that the ghost is pretty generous because he is doing a favor every morning for you:)jk
    Have you checked out ‘Oshima Teru’? or are you planning to ask your landlord? If you want to ask in Japanese, here is an example sentence.
    「最近事故物件の話を読んだんですが、この家が安いのは大家さんの優しさですか?それともひょっとして….」
    (saikin jikobukken no hanashi o yondandesuga, konoie ga yasui no ha ooyasann no yasashisa desuka? soretomo hyottoshite…) means “I’ve recently read an article about stigmatized property, but does the generous price of this house come from just your generosity? or…by any chance….”
    If your landlord’s face turned upset or so, simply laugh and tell him that it was a Halloween joke. Good luck!

  • Mami

    Ohm you’ve lived haunted apartments before:) Yeah, to find new stuff, no neighbors, and cheap rent, I guess you have to go with such places:P

  • Satsujin

    Low. But Japan has one of the world’s lowest murder rates. :0 Japanese people do not like violence. :)
    I need to date a nice cute Japanese. Let me know if you any! :D
    P.S. Will they accept to live in a stigamatised house with someone that’s called Satsujin? :O

  • Mami

    I have no idea. It all depends. Good luck with your Japanese girl hunting! :P Are you currently in Japan? It’s probably easer to find one in Japan rather than finding one in your country. Which country are you from, if I may ask?

  • Renmi

    I’m not sure how I feel about living in a haunted place. I mean my current apartment is haunted, but I’ve lived here all my life so we’ve come to an arrangement of sorts.

    But my luck I would rent a place with an angry spirit. (Maybe I’ve seen juon too many times…) That’s not cool.

  • Tuna

    I personally wouldn’t mind living in such a home if I knew for sure the murderers wouldn’t return. Nothing would suck more then finally moving in and some guy busts in wanting to finish the job and instead finishes me.

  • Miamiron

    Prices of Japanese rentals go down if creepy things happen there? So what youre saying is I should “haunt” my new neighbors so they complain to the realtor, then kill them, and move-in to their place to save 一万円 every month? Im on it!

  • Juliet

    Cheap is good. I wouldn’t discount it, though I’d prefer if a person just died or there was an arson or accidental homicide rather than a violent murder. I’ve lived in a haunted house before. If it’s not too disruptive I could deal with it, though I’d prefer not to. I didn’t particularly like feeling creeped out all the time.

  • Mami

    You may live in a prison instead…(((((((( ;゚Д゚))))))))ガクガクブルブルガタガタブルブル

  • Mami

    How did you know that it was an angry spirit?? Something happened?(((((((( ;゚Д゚))))))))ガクガクブルブルガタガタブルブル

  • Mami

    Yeah, that’s scary. You may want a contract between you and the murder that he/she won’t return.

  • Mami

    Thank you for sharing your info:D How did you find out that the place was haunted? Did you learn it after moving in?

  • Renmi

    Strange things happen around angry spirits. But lucky for me there are more kind spirits at my place right now.

    But my building has a lot of elderly people so of course there’s bound to be a ghost or two.

    How about you?

  • Miamiron

    With all the violent deaths that probably happened in there, the rent must be reallllly cheap.

  • renfield kuroda

    I lived for 6 years in the apartment where Hide from X Japan died under mysterious circumstances. Bargain price!

  • GeekyGentleman

    Mami,

    The very concept of a “stigmatized” property is something I find to be rather interesting. In America/Canada there isn’t a similar cultural equivalent with the same sort of negative connotations you describe. If anything properties that have a history of being “haunted”, or are known to be where someone died in a violent or unusual way are actually more likely to be worth more since it would make the property more noteworthy compared to the history of other houses/apartments in the area.

    The closest American equivalent to a stigmatized property I can think of might be living in a “bad neighborhood” or a “bad part of town”, but that is more an indicator of socioeconomic inequality and doesn’t really pertain to a specific property.

    This is wandering a bit off topic, but I am curious if there are any American/Canadian cultural quirks regarding property that seem interesting or unusual from a Japanese perspective.

    Regards,
    -GeekyGentleman

  • Mami

    I hope so…

  • Mami

    Really!? Actually, it must be a very nice apartment I assume…

  • Mami

    I haven’t seen any ghost for now. I saw a baby hand in Japan once though…but I still unsure if it was a ghost…but it didn’t make sense if it wasn’t a ghost…

  • Mami

    I agree with the neighborhood or bad part of town decrease the price, but I don’t think the price goes up after someone was killed. In fact, I saw that one of Toronto real-estate agents makes discount for that…but…I don’t know. I only witnessed one case…:(

  • renfield kuroda

    It was not small!

  • Mami

    I bet!

  • Saimu-san

    I was born in Glasgow but grew up in Clydebank. My avatar is from a dinosaur themed crazy golf course that was built nearby after my family moved to Liverpool in 2009.

    Back then there were still some buildings standing with shrapnel damage from the Blitz or looked like they were once part of a bigger building and damaged areas were removed.

    My dad sometimes took me to the wood where a bomb crater had been left to become a pond because It was a great place for collecting frog spawn and seeing other wildlife. Not a lot of people wanted to get that close to the crater so the frogs, toads and newts would thrive.

    A lot of “four in a block” temporary houses were built for the refugees from the bombings to live in that are still standing to this day. Including two of my childhood homes. They weren’t supposed to last 50 years let alone 70!

    My mum was often worried about me and my sister getting sick from the cold, structural damp and mould but I was more scared by the giant spiders that could only be killed with the vacuum cleaner because they were too big to swat or put in a cup and throw outside. Lol.

    The Blitz certainly affected a lot of folks in unexpected ways for years afterwards. The town has never fully recovered and it has created a slightly different world view and culture compared to that of nearby Glasgow. The residents there are jittery and nervous around those they don’t know through someone else. Maybe they think all outsiders are secret German, Italian or English invaders coming back for another raid? I dunno. Never made any sense to me.

    The Clydebank Blitz has had many articles written about it and a few TV documentaries have been made that are on Youtube. There’s also the Liverpool Blitz which I have to walk past the remnants of on a regular basis since what is locally known as the “Bombed Out Church” is on my route to and from College.

    I’ve probably walked past where I’ve known someone has died over a million times already. In fact in the UK, knowing is something you can’t escape. Every day you see flowers at a spot in the road where someone was killed, you can pay money to go on tours to find out how people died in public places, memorial plates and stones are everywhere telling you when and how someone passed away.

    Guess there is less of a taboo or fear of death as there is of dead bodies, here. Maybe something to do with Spanish Flu and the Black Death?

  • Nelson

    The place I live in had ghosts in it, and it was still expensive. I live in the USA, and wish I could go to Japan. If I can afford it, I plan to Study Abroad in Japan sometime in the future while I’m at Keene State College.

  • ZANARK

    How about if the person renting or buying the house is haunted? in my case I have never liked to live in a very big place since I “have the feeling” that I attract ghosts/spirits, good or bad for equal, so sometimes that’s not a problem if the ghost just “wanders around” in the free bedrooms no one uses, but I can never be sure if I will attract something good or something bad; so by saying all of this, does that make me a “house stigmatizer”? if so, if I rent a “clean/pure property” and the owner finds that thing about me, does the owner have the right to charge me for a higher rent?

  • Matthew Brown

    I recently moved to Fukuoka and I got a fifty-percent discount on my rent because an old lady died here shortly before I moved in. I told my real estate agent that I’m not superstitious, so it doesn’t really bother me. I just wanted somewhere at short notice that was cheap, conveniently located and fairly new. People die all the time in hospitals and I have no problem going there, so I don’t see what the big deal is. Maybe it would have been a different matter if there was a murder or fire here recently. A recent suicide wouldn’t stop me from moving into somewhere though.