In general, Japanese law dictates that lessors are responsible for making the repairs necessary for use of the leased space or object. In other words, a landlord that rents an apartment is generally responsible for maintaining the apartment in a usable manner. However, small acts of maintenance (such as changing light-bulbs or repairing the paper on sliding shoji doors) are generally expected to be performed by the tenant during the course of the lease.
When a tenant determines that repairs are needed to maintain an apartment, the tenant should notify the landlord and request that the landlord make the required repairs. If the landlord refuses, the tenant may make the necessary repairs and submit a claim to the landlord for the money used in the repairs. Whether the claim will be honored or not will depend on the necessity of the repairs and the amount of money requested.
Although landlords in Japan generally have the responsibility to repair apartments that they rent, this is an obligation that can be contracted out of. If the rental lease for an apartment specifies that the tenant shall be responsible for all repairs, the landlord can avoid responsibility for repairing and maintaining the apartment. Tenants should read their lease carefully to ensure that they understand which party shall be responsible for repairs.
If you have any questions about property law in Japan, please contact our office to set up a legal consultation.