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Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2004


Tenant rights and health care for foreigners

Tenant rights

Two years ago, I rented an apartment through a realtor, and paid lots of money -- two-months deposit, one-month thank you money, and realtor fee -- thinking that after two years, we could renew our contract and somehow use the place longer to compensate for the initial payments we had made.

The owner/landlord opened up a hair salon business in the first floor of the two-storey building during the second year of our stay.

When the expiration of our apartment contract was nearing, the realtor contacted us saying that the owners would like to use the second floor (where I am staying) as part of the hair salon too.

I don't necessarily want to move, but if I do, I'm especially upset at the amount of money I paid out just two years ago.

I have not started my apartment searching yet, but it breaks my heart because I will have to pay once again the thank you money and the realtor fee. It is too much for my budget.

My question is: do tenants have any rights if they want to extend or renew an apartment contract, or is this the landlord's prerogative?

What should I expect to get from them when I agree to leave?

Yours is a very common problem even for Japanese! Technically, since the contract is only for two years, which is short, you can demand all of your deposit back as a "tachinukuryo" or payment to move.

For this you should calculate what it will cost you to rent a new apartment of the same type, the price for the down payment and also price to move your things.

Then, through your realtor, demand that they pay you this as the price for you to move and you do not have to move until they make this payment to you. This is commonly done and your realtor will help you arrange it.

Remember, you do not have to leave until you are compensated for your move, particularly when you have been there for such a short time and it will be much trouble for you to move.

Hospital stays

My wife will have surgery soon and has heard good things about the quality of surgical services at the hospital she will be staying. But, she has also heard bad things.

Is there a place she can contact regarding receiving info on this or any medical facility? She has to be in the hospital several weeks afterwards and she is a bit scared.

In the U.S., the American medical Association has a number you can call to find out if anyone has complained or they have a good rating. How about Japan?

The medical care in Japan is one of the best in the world. The quality, cleanliness, nurses are first rate. The problem is more in the system.

It is provided for everybody -- there is National Health Insurance and as a result you can get lost in the system.

Remember there are two kinds of hospitals -- those that take the national insurance and those that don't. The key to the medical system in Japan is to have a "family doctor" and to go to a hospital that has experience with the international community.

The best are the Mission Hospitals. You don't say where you are but in Tokyo, there's St. Luke's Hospital at www.luke.or.jp and The Seventh Day Hospital at www.sda.or.jp

In Yokohama, there's The Bluff Hospital, on (045) 641-6961. And in Kansai, there's the Seventh Day Hospital. There's also the Baptist Hospital in Kyoto at (075) 781-5191, and the Yodogawa Christian Hospital in Osaka at www.ych.or.jp/e/

Check out how to order on www.labourmobilitycom


Something you can't find in Japan? Try "Tokyu Hands" -- they are the store that has literally everything! A good place to start is at http://yokohama.tokyu-hands.co.jp/

Need a Church in Tokyo? Try the Tokyo Union Church at www2.gol.com/users/tuc/

Ken Joseph Jr. directs Japan Helpline on 0570 000 911 or at www.jhelp.com Send your queries, questions, problems and posers, to: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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