How to navigate complex housing market and new regulations
In a property market typically dominated by men or large corporations, Miyuki Kanda, female entrepreneur, has broken the mould.
Back in 2000, Kanda, the founder of Axis Point Co., Ltd., started the journey into the accommodation rental business by subleasing a two-bedroom apartment to foreigners who were visiting Tokyo.
That crucial first step was a jumping point for creating an easy and affordable property rental website for foreigners coming to and living in Japan.
“Over time, our website has grown dramatically. We now have a database of more than 6,000 rooms for rent all around Tokyo. There are even some spaces for rent in the Osaka/Kyoto area, and we are constantly looking for and uploading new properties to our portal”, Kanda commented.
“The Axis Point site connects potential tenants with guesthouses large and small, and with shared or private furnished apartments being let by both Japanese and foreign owners based in Japan. Our goal from day one has been introducing the right property to the right prospective tenant”, she explained.
It has traditionally proved difficult for Japanese property owners to introduce their flats to foreign prospects, due simply to the language barrier. However, this problem is eliminated with the Axis Point portal.
Nevertheless, the language barrier is only one of the issues facing landlords in Japan.
Opening a guesthouse or some other type of shared accommodation in Tokyo might appear easy but, without the proper research, you might end up illegally opening a guesthouse or renting out property or rooms.
The laws regarding apartment rentals for shared premises in Japan have become increasingly complex and have been revised considerably even in 2014. Many current and prospective property owners do not know about the amended regulations.
For example, the Building Standards Act and various fire safety ordinances require ceilings to be a minimum of 2.1m high, and rooms must have a minimum floor area of 7m2 in Tokyo.
As a board of directors member for the Japan Shared & Guest House Organization (JSGO), Kanda advises current and future owners of shared housing. During JSGO’s monthly meetings and seminars, members—who are property owners—discuss safety guidelines and management support, with occasional presentations by legal advisors, fire department personnel and others.
Kanda shares the organisation’s goal of persuading the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to incorporate proposed guidelines into the growing body of laws governing shared premises.
“At Axis Point we are constantly looking for new owners and subletters who wish to rent out or open new, shared rental premises, but only those who do so according to the established guidelines. This ensures that the accommodations we offer are safe and decent places to live. When owners follow the guidelines, we will reward them with a certificate to ensure prospective tenants an accommodation is safe and well managed.
“Many people may not realise that simply subletting an apartment without the consent of the owner, via one of the several famous international flat rental sites, is actually illegal. Therefore, before posting your apartment or house for rent on some website, why not first make sure that doing so is legal and consult us about how to earn maximum profit from a deal?” Kanda encouraged.
“Sometimes people are not aware of the rates and possible profits that can be earned when leasing property.
“For example, one of our clients sublet a one-bedroom apartment with a three-year contract for ¥60,000 per month in the Harajuku area. However, when they converted the arrangement and leased the place out as a fully furnished private apartment, they were able to charge ¥150,000 per month. The person subleasing the apartment already started making a profit in the seventh month of the rental period”, she said.
“With the right management, it is just a matter of time before you can make your property work for you.
“Our next challenge at Axis Point is expanding our business model to include private apartment letting with full relocation services, through our new website [http://www.ofjapan.jp/]”, she said.
“Are you considering buying property in Japan and turning it into a shared rental? If so, be sure to contact us first. We will assist you with buying, setting up, leasing and turning a profit as quickly as possible.
“Our extensive knowledge of clients’ needs, location specifics and management practices ensure we can be a solid bridge between you and your new home in Japan”, Kanda said reassuringly.