Television sets inexplicably turn on and off. Visitors who enter his room complain of sudden migraines. Rapping sounds keep him awake at night, and psychics warn he is being stalked by ghostly apparitions.

In Tanishi Matsubara's tales of living in apartments with grim histories of murder, suicide and lonely deaths, morbid humor often gives way to outright terror.

Call it bad taste, but the bespectacled 36-year-old comedian's peculiar preference for so-called stigmatized properties lets him save on rent. Landlords often offer discounts to tenants willing to take properties with past troubles.