In short: I have what is clearly a lease under the Land and House Lease Law here in Japan. But the landlord agent, who I will now outright identify as Hoyo Tokyo, claims that the contract is actually a “loan for use” under Article 593 of the Civil Code. There was some discussion about this in the Japan expat blog circle. I did get my rent reduced to the price that my neighbor had been paying all along (which was at least 50,000 yen less than what I was). But this issue of “is it a lease or is it a hotel room?” still continues.
What has happened is that the landlord’s agent, a man named Ikematsu, hand-delivered me a notice that they intend to change the locks on November 26. This is so, even though I promised to pay for December on the date I usually do for a month.
I’m very concerned about this. Because if I pay on Thursday, and they change the locks on Friday, I may be out the money. So now, I am concerned about paying the money over.
An added twist is that now I’m not sure what the real rents in the building are anyway. I finally spoke to some of the models, downstairs, who work for a modeling agency, and they claim that they’re being told the rent is either 170,000 yen a month or 180,000 yen a month. (This is for a thin-walled building of 1K apartments that was put up in the bubble years.) One hundred thousand a month[, what I negotiated down to,] is about 4400 yen a square meter—the average price in the 5-ku Tokyo center.
It’s clear those numbers are out of the ballpark. Prices of apartments are posted all over the area in the windows of the various leasing companies. A few years ago, key money or deposit money might be an issue. Now, key money is gone, and in many cases even deposit money.
None of the kids know the real price, because the modeling agency pays it, and then they give the employees the keys. So it’s basically employer-provided housing, with the modeling agency as tenant.
There is no way to know what the modeling agency is paying. That is the real price of the apartment.
I am not looking to cheat the landlord, but frankly, I can’t help but feel cheated. I’ve paid over 4 million yen in the last couple years, and it may be that a modeling agency paid half that for the same thing. If they’re telling the kids 170,000 yen but not paying that themselves, maybe some fraud is thrown in, too. Hopefully not tax fraud, since, as you know, employer-provided housing is a tax deduction in Japan. (The employer could claim an inflated price and take that higher number as an expense, even though the sum of money was never paid.)
So, in the short time I have left in Tokyo as it stands, I’ve got this to deal with. Ideally, I wish there were a government agency that would certify whether a lease (which you can see in full on Debito’s site) is really a lease, or a hotel contract.