How-tos | LIFELINES

Getting a renter to budge can require patience

by Jun Kajita

A reader calling himself “Shattered, Exhausted and Fed Up” sent Lifelines the following inquiry about a property he owns:

I purchased a house that at the time was being rented by a company and used as an office. The term of the contract is two years and it has an article offering automatic renewal to the company.

I wish to live in this property and make it my family’s home. I currently have to rent an apartment, as the tenants in my house — the business — are not prepared to move out of the place they are using as an office.

Do I have any chance at all of having them removed, or do I have to wait until they decide to go?

Any advice gratefully received.

Dear Shattered, your first option is to negotiate with the company outside of court, asking them to move out. It sounds as if you have already tried this approach. Of course, if it works, this is the cheapest and easiest way of resolving your situation.

If the company won’t consider moving out of its own volition, you should think about terminating the contract instead of letting it renew automatically. If you want to do this, you have to send a notice of termination of the contract to the company at a minimum of six months before the expiry date of the contract. If the company has not budged by that date, you would then have no choice but to bring the case to court.

In reaching a judgment, the court will try to take into consideration all the circumstances, especially the prior history surrounding the lease, the conditions of the house’s use, the current state of the building and the necessity of using the house for both parties. Having weighed up all these factors, the court could decide to issue an order for the business to leave the property and under certain conditions, or one allowing it to stay. Alternatively, it may advise both parties to comply with a suggested settlement. Neither party is required to agree with the settlement, but it could serve as the basis for an eventual deal that satisfies both sides.

In these kinds of cases, the owner will often be urged by the court to pay settlement money, called tachinokiryō (eviction charge), to the tenant in exchange for surrendering the building.

Jun Kajita is an attorney with the Foreign nationals and International Service Section at Tokyo Public Law Office, which handles a wide range of cases involving foreigners in the Tokyo area (www.t-pblo.jp/fiss; 03-6809-6200). FISS lawyers address readers’ queries once a month. Your questions and other comments: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp