Renting a home required a lot of things from the lessee. To rent a “decent” looking place means putting in a third of your monthly income. In many instances, a number of property brokers impose their “standards” of leasing, including paying out a month’s rent in advance and an equivalent of two months’ rent for deposit. They would also demand issuance of post-dated checks. In most cases, there are brokers who would coerce lessees to either apply for checking accounts or “borrow” checks from friends. Talk about unethical “business practice”.
It was never easy to hunt for a place to rent, given the stringent requirements and the costs of moving. Which takes me to another point that compared to locals, many brokerage firms and agents would seem to prefer “foreigners” as tenants who would enjoy more flexible requirements.
The local law is lax when it comes to leasing. There is no clear-cut provision on how much is too much when requiring for advance and deposit payments. For middle working class and monthly earners, the quest for “decent living” almost always boils down to choosing between having to pay a large chunk of one’s salary or scrimping on food budget through the rest of the month until the next payday.
Have money? Do not invest as yet
Given the “costly” rental trend, it is not surprising that it would seem more practical to just buy a property than rent.
Pre-selling properties are enticing, as far as payment terms are concerned. One pays in piecemeal amount with the prospect of owning the property by a promised turnover date.
But by personal experience, buying a pre-selling property is more like buying the advertising pitch, and not the actual, tangible product. While it may seem cheaper at first to buy a pre-selling property, but without seeing the real quality of the actual good is like courting losses.
Nevertheless, if renting remains the option, here are a few tips when picking location and property:
1. Does the property have history of crime or unnatural deaths (suicide, accidents, abuse, etc)? Japan’s “jiko bukken” is a Real Estate Transaction Law, which requires brokers or lessors to disclose to tenants or buyers if the property has any history of deaths – both natural or unnatural, before contract is signed or deal is closed.
It just makes sense to do this. First of all, as a tenant or a buyer, I would probably think twice about living in a place where the energy is “disturbed”. A property with positive vibes and imprints encourages good health, abundance and happiness. Asking your lessor or broker to disclose it may be futile, so do your own research instead.
2. Research online about the property, if there are news citing it or the areas it is at, in crime incidences.
3. Also research online to find out if there have been flood incidences in the property and its areas.
4. Find out if it is standing on a faultline or near the faultline. Consult Philvolc’s FaultFinder App here
5. Find out the developer of the property and research how the developer conducts its business, and whether it has followed building and environmental laws. Unethical practices should not be patronised.
6. Whether you found the property online or through referrals, survey the area and the environs of the property. Use Google Street View and Google Earth view for this. I would prefer properties that are far from creeks, cemeteries and factories.
7. See road traffic in the area. Use WAZE live traffic (available on mobile and on desktop) for this and try to monitor the area during rush hours.
8. Find the Facebook page or group of property’s homeowners to read candid comments from and actual situation of residents on the property. Request to join and state your true intention for joining (i.e., to be able to make the right decision of buying or renting the property by reading comment and reviews from residents). Do not “troll” the page.
9. During ocular visit of the property, not only should you inspect fixtures, electrical outlets, and drainage but also the integrity of the structures (e.g.,look for cracks on the interior/exterior walls of the building; ask if there are canals or waterways that are blocked during construction; or if asbestos is used in the building, etc.).
10. Ask questions and read the fine prints of the lease contract. In most cases, the contract favours the lessor more than the tenant. If the lessor or broker seem not accommodating enough to answer all your queries, chances are, they will treat you the same way as a tenant. As a client, we have the right to ask questions, exhaustively so and to be getting the answers that are thorough, honest and worthy of our hard earned rent money.