Address Concerns to Make Leasing Process Smoother

There have been a number of cases in which landlords are refusing to rent properties to single elderly people. This is because landlords are concerned about their potential health problems and rent arrears.

It is hoped that a system will be put in place so that elderly people can rent homes smoothly.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry; the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry; and the Justice Ministry have set up a joint study group on making it easier for elderly and other vulnerable people to rent residential properties. The group will study measures to support tenants and aim to establish a system for that purpose.

The number of single elderly persons aged 65 and older has exceeded 6.7 million and is expected to reach nearly 8 million by 2030. After the deaths of family members or for other reasons, many of them wish to move out of costly-to-maintain owner-occupied houses and into smaller-scale rental housing that comes with a reduced burden of household chores.

Also, some elderly people are forced to move out of apartments they have lived in for many years, as the aged buildings are being demolished.

However, landlords tend to be reluctant to accept elderly people, fearing that they may die alone, have problems with people around them due to cognitive decline, or become delinquent in paying rent because of a decrease in income, among other concerns.

According to a central government survey, nearly 70% of landlords said they would be inclined to not let elderly people move into their apartments. First of all, it is important to eliminate the concerns of landlords.

To prevent lonely deaths, it would be advisable for local governments and support organizations to consider establishing a system to watch over those who are not in good health such as by visiting their rooms.

In addition, deciding in advance how to dispose of household goods in the event of death, among other steps, should also have the effect of reducing the psychological burden on landlords.

Making it easier to use a guarantee service that pays rent if residents fall behind should also be considered.

In recent years, some real estate agents have been focusing on introducing properties to the elderly. It will be effective for elderly people who are unable to find a place to live to consult with such agencies.

Currently, there is a central government system to introduce rental housing to elderly and other vulnerable people. However, there are many properties that do not meet their needs; they may be too far from railway stations, or the rent may be too high. The system should be revised to make it easier to match people with housing by carefully examining the properties that are registered.

Given Japan’s low birth rate, the number of tenants in younger generations is decreasing. If it becomes easier for the elderly and others to rent housing, landlords also should benefit by not having to deal with vacancies.

To address various issues such as the assets of the elderly and their relationships with their families, it is essential for the central and local governments to obtain a wide range of opinions from people such as experts in the real estate, legal and welfare fields.

Based on such efforts, it is then important to make effective use of existing housing resources, including public and private housing.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 26, 2023)