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Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Roaches and rent
Death to 'gokiburi'
JB put pen to paper to vent spleen on the perennial pests that roam -- or rather scuttle about -- these islands.
"I'd like to try your Hawaiian cockroach remedy, but would it be effective against our big Japanese 'gokiburi?'
"Also, where can I get boric acid and cornmeal, and what are the Japanese words for these?
"I'd also like to know more about 'gokiburi' seasonal habits, when their eggs hatch, etc.
"I recently found several running about my kitchen in mid-December! Is this unusual?"
Yes, JB, roaches are part and parcel of living in Japan and, no matter how new the apartment or house, they seem to find a way in.
For readers who might have missed the secret remedy provided for us by one of our readers in Hawaii, here it is again:
"We make a mixture of 1/3 boric acid, 1/3 cornmeal and 1/3 granular white sugar.
"Then we take a tin can and put two or three holes in the sides at the base of the can. Next, we put a tablespoon of the mixture into the can and cover the top with a piece of aluminum foil.
"We put these everywhere that the cockroaches are, but out of the way of pets and children.
"This mixture never goes bad and works very well for us. I find dead cockroaches nearly every day in our house using cans that contain mixtures that are 10-15 years old."
Boric acid is "hosan" in Japanese and cornmeal is "kohnmiiru."
There is no particular time of the year that Asian cockroaches produce eggs, and females can sometimes be seen carrying egg capsules that contain around 40 eggs.
The females drop the capsule before the young hatch.
Development from eggs to adults takes three to four months, and cockroaches can live up to a year.
Females can produce up to eight egg cases in a lifetime -- that can mean 300-400 offspring!
Renewal fee woes
JC poses questions that comes up again and again about renting.
"The system of paying a renewal fee of one/two/three months rent every two years seems extremely exploitative to me.
"I have heard that I am actually not obligated to pay the every-two-year renewal money to my renter, even if it is in my contract.
"Is this true? Would I have to take it to court in order to avoid paying it?"
Simply put, there is no legal obligation to pay except for the fact that it is in your contract.
In other words, there is no law that requires it, but it is normally included in your rent contract so when you sign you agree to it.
These days you can usually find a place that will not need a large down-payment and you can negotiate the renewal fee.
If you have already signed the contract, speak with the realtor who got you the place and see if he can talk to the owner and get you exempted from the renewal fee.
If you looking for a new home, simply ask for a place that does not have the renewal charge in the contract or get it crossed out when you negotiate terms.
If you don't speak Japanese and don't have a friend who can go with you, call the Japan Helpline at (0570) 000-911 from the real estate office and someone will help translate.
Send your queries, questions, problems and posers to firstname.lastname@example.org