by Ewa Nowogorski
When talking about the funny, weird, and fascinating aspects of any place, it is also good to address the gruesome aspects as well. In America, many land or home sellers are often required to disclose certain, peculiar information related to the property, such as if the property is haunted or not. Such details can decrease the value of the property because potential inhabitants will not appreciate ghosts interfering with their daily lives, so owners and realtors often hesitate to do so. In Japan, there is a similar concept in which home owners are required to disclose whether or not someone has died in a particular home to the potential rentor.
These types of properties have a special name. They are called jikobukken (事故物件), or literally “accident listings”. A jikobukken is classified as such if a person has died in it due to old age, sickness, some accident, suicide or murder. Interestingly, there is a statute of limitations for having to legally announce this information. If a jikkobuken is inhabited by a new tenant, the next tenant directly after the tenant who died on the property has to be informed before signing any paperwork. However, any future tenants after the first new tenant do not have to be informed of the fact. Second, if 3 years or more pass after the death, the owners are no longer legally required to disclose the fact that someone has died in there.
Obviously, the more henious the death the more unappealing the listing becomes, and most Japanese people hesitate to rent such places. In fact, a 2020 online survey by AlbaLink discovered that over 71% of respondents would not be willing to live in a home where someone had previously died. Their reasons vary, but most reason that such a place would have bad energy, and they would be constantly conscious of the fact that someone died. And if anything weird happened in the home that could not easily be explained logically, they would not be able to help but wonder if that happening was due to the spirit of the dead person.
Jikkobuken are becoming increasingly common in Japan due to the fact that many elderly people are passing away alone in their homes with no one to care for them, and there are even some realtors that specialize in listing out such properties. Usually, if a property seems unusually cheap compared to similar properties in the area, it may be a sign that something undesirable may have happened in that home.
If you ever go apartment hunting in Japan, you should be wary of this, especially if you are a superstitious or spiritual person. Although for some, it’s not an issue at all and certain people will be grateful for the discounted rent.