In Japan, demand for old, abandoned houses is growing. Interest in buying such “Akiya” (in German: empty houses), of which there are now millions in Japan with its rapidly aging population, is increasing, especially among foreigners. Particularly popular are “Kominka”, old wooden country houses.

But buying is not the only way to get such houses: sometimes there is also the option of renting them cheaply, as the “Japan Times” reported at the weekend. However, potential tenants of such houses, which have often been vacant for years, should be careful before moving in: Unlike other rental properties, Akiya tenants often face high repair and maintenance costs, it was said.

Prefabricated houses are more popular among Japanese

“Ko” means “old”, “Minka” means “country house”. For the generations that grew up during Japan’s rapid economic growth after 1945, the wooden houses, some of which were centuries old and built using Japan’s wonderful traditional architecture, appeared uncomfortable and uncivilized. Instead, the islanders built prefabricated houses that look run-down after just a few decades and often blight the landscape. “Unfortunately, Japan has no monument protection,” explained the German architect Karl Bengs to the dpa. He has dedicated himself to “recycling” “kominka” in his adopted home of Japan.

“Every day that no one lives in a house, it falls into disrepair, and all of a sudden you have a house that no one has lived in for over a decade and it’s just no longer usable,” Parker J. Allen told the newspaper. He is the founder of a company that deals with Akiya. For owners of such empty houses, this is the biggest motivation to rent out their properties, says Allen. However, given the repair costs that often arise, he advises interested parties to conclude a precise contract instead of verbal agreements.