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Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Good will hunting; rent fees

Renewal fees revisited

Peter Link in Kyoto writes on the subject of renewal fees for renting property. This is the Japanese system whereby a renter can expect to pay a charge of up to three months' rent every two years to the landowner.

"In your Lifelines on 4/16 you state that you have to pay the renewal fee if it is written in your contract.

"I would like to point out that the ruling acknowledging the refusal of the renewal fee by a Kyoto court was in a case where the renewal fee was written in the contract. Comments about this ruling can be seen at www.toshin.gr.jp/manage/report/200407.html (in Japanese).

"In my own case I had it written in my contract as well. I talked to the 'kanrigaisha' (management company), who said they would try to negotiate it with the owner and advised us to write a letter to the owner ourselves. As the owner didn't want to talk to us we just ignored his letter that failing to pay the renewal fee could result in expulsion from the flat, and nothing happened.

"We are still in the flat without having paid the renewal fee. As this applies mostly to Kyoto residents you can get legal advice at the prefectural government office ("fucho") for free. Make an appointment on (075) 432-2011. It is in Japanese but there may be a lawyer who can speak English. In our case they told us that we would have an 80-percent chance of winning if the owner took us to court, but the devil is in the detail, so check it.

"The landowners know they are in a weak position and often offer a reduction if you ask for it. 'You have to pay if it's in your contract' is the position of the landowners."

Where there's a will . . .

MA is seeking advice on how to draw up a will that would be legally valid in both Japan and the U.S.

"I am single and have worked in Japan for a long time. I would like to prepare a document which would specify who is to receive the money in the bank and my property.

"If possible, I'd also like to arrange things so that my family in the United States would be able to access my bank account fairly quickly and avoid huge out-of-pocket expenses while waiting for lengthy (?) legal procedures to be completed.

"I'd appreciate any suggestions you could make. (I pulled my old copy of 'Now you live in Japan' (Japan Times) off the shelf and read what I could find there, but it was published in 1985 and now appears to be out of print.)"

In fact, we are working on a book compiling all our columns over the past seven years. It should be a nice update to "Now You Live in Japan."

For a will, the best thing is to work with a lawyer in Japan who also works in the U.S. There are a number of them. We recommend Tim Langley at langleytimothy@yahoo.com or phone (080) 5404-6779 . He can help you with both the Japanese and U.S. sides.

You need to be very careful though, as you will need separate wills for Japan and the U.S. If they are carefully drawn up, you should have no problems legally.

If any of our readers have experience of preparing a will here, let us know so we can pass it on.

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

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