Mitsubishi Estate Co., the nation's biggest developer by market value, said it is halting the sale of units in a residential building in central Tokyo because of defects.

The building in the upscale Aoyama neighborhood was found to require some construction repairs, including to some of its pipes, Mitsubishi Estate said in an email message. The project was constructed by Kajima Corp. along with Kandenko Co. and Hamano Densetsu Inc., which make electrical and machinery facilities.

The weekly Diamond reported the halt last Thursday.

Residential demand has increased ahead of the increase in the consumption tax to 8 percent from 5 percent in April.

Housing starts in the world's third-largest economy rose for a 16th month in December, the longest rising streak since the period that ended in February 1994.

Mitsubishi Estate began investigating the construction after one of the buyers informed the Tokyo-based developer that there were some postings on the Internet about the defect on Dec. 9, it said in the statement. The developer had decided to halt the sale because it is unclear as to when it can hand over the apartments and that it may find additional defects, it said.

Mitsubishi Estate was originally expected to hand over the units on March 20, it said, adding that they are in discussions with the those who agreed to cancel the sale. Eighty-three out of 86 units were under contract, said Chika Kanamori, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman of the developer. The units cost as much as ¥350 million, with the majority of them around ¥140 million, she said.