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Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2006

LIFELINES

Landlords, car repairs, and city hall


Landlord

Five years ago my landlord asked for access to our apartment in order to fix a water problem in another premises directly under ours. Damage done to this apartment during that work still has not been repaired. Recently we had a problem with our electrical system and the electrician discovered some very dangerous plugs. We have tried and tried to contact the landlord to no avail. We are very scared as we are a family of three people living on the fourth floor. We have always paid the rent on time during 14 years in this apartment. What should we do? To leave this apartment means paying money to the real estate agent and we can't afford it.

First, there was a major court ruling recently in Osaka which we believe has the potential to dramatically alter the "deposit" system. The ruling threw out the automatic assertion that the landlord could take out whatever he or she wanted from the deposit and eliminated "regular wear" repairs from being taken out of the deposit upon moving.

There is no charge for you to move, and with the recent ruling you should be able to recoup most of your deposit when you do so. This is now a much better alternative.

As to your problems with the landlord not taking care of the place, the first place to start is with the agent through which you rented the apartment. You should be able to contact them. Tell them what has happened and that you need the repairs made or you will move out.

If you are unable to reach the agent, go to the local "Kuyakucho" or "Yakuba" city office and bring along the paperwork that shows you have faithfully paid the rent, the contract and other information and they will help you.

If all else fails, now might be the time to move. If you have been there for 14 years the chances are the rents may have actually gone down.

Damaged car

I recently damaged the rear of my car and need to find a place to repair it. I live in Nishinasuno in Tochigi. I would greatly appreciate if you could let me know what to do about this problem.

I just was hit myself. Where did I take the car. To my regular gas station. While they cannot do it themselves, each gas station always has a repair place they work through. As a regular customer of the gas station they will make sure to get you the best deal as they value you as a customer. That is the place to start.

From our readers

Sorry but your advice to the guy leaving Japan is wrong on one count, and you should let him know. If you don't agree with me, please explain why you wrote what you did. If he goes to his local city hall he will not be paying "one month" of health insurance for the month he leaves. The health insurance/pension through city hall are linked and he will be asked to pay up to one year's worth if he is unlucky, depending on which month he leaves. This is standard practice at city halls throughout Japan. Please provide this information in your column. I have friends who left Japan in June or July a year ago and they were asked to pay up to the following year. Yes, this is the Japanese way to always discriminate against foreigners.

And one more . . .

I wouldn't normally write, but I was reading your column about first and middle names, and I don't want any other couples to experience the problems my wife and I had before getting our children's names the way we want them. Sure, there is no problem in putting a space between the two names. Both our sons have their middle name (or two first names, as it were) separated by a space. But spelling is more tricky, as the authorities will not let you put it in proper English (they follow the katakana on the application) unless you give them a document (e.g. parents passport) showing the correct spelling.

Ken Joseph Jr. has directed The Japan Helpline since 1975 at www.jhelp.com or 0570 000 911

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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