100 condominiums in Sendai City need rebuilding

In Sendai City, a condominium that was seriously damaged by the March 11 Tohoku Earthquake is scheduled to be demolished. Sunny Heights Takasago is a 14-storey apartment building with 189 units. The earthquake damaged the foundations and the building began to lean at a dangerous angle, threatening neighboring buildings. Demolition is scheduled to begin by the end of December and should be completed within 6 months. This is the first case in Sendai City of an apartment building of this size being demolished due to the effects of the Tohoku earthquake, but it won’t be the last.

Many homes and properties in Sendai City suffered severe damage during the earthquake. The demolition and removal fees will be borne City. Over 100 condominium buildings in Sendai City were classified as being completely destroyed by the earthquake and are in need of rebuilding, yet demolition work has not started on any of these buildings.

Why the delay?

When rebuilding a condominium, the law states that over 80% of the apartment owners must agree to the reconstruction. When just demolishing the building and not rebuilding, all of the owners must agree. However, getting the agreement of the owners can be difficult for several reasons including the following:
– In a natural disaster where lives have been lost, there are many cases where succession and the next of kin have not been decided which makes it difficult to find the correct owner of the property.
– In the case where many of the building residents are aged citizens, some aging owners may have dementia and may not be of sound mind.
– Not being able to contact owners, especially those who reside elsewhere.

Even though Sendai City will bear the costs of demolition, the agreement of the apartment owners must still be obtained before any work can begin.

For buildings that are at risk of collapse, the laws become complex and make it difficult to continue with demolition without receiving full permission of the owners. This creates a risk of a secondary-disaster whereby damaged buildings can collapse and damage surrounding buildings.

Sunny Heights Takasago

About Sunny Heights Takasago:
– Built in 1976
– Suffered some foundation damage in the1978 Miyagi earthquake
– Suffered serious damage on March 11
– Additional damage from an aftershock on April 4
– The 400 residents evacuated the building
– Recontruction would cost 3.07 billion Yen (40 million USD) with each apartment owner having to pay 16 million Yen (205,000 USD)
– Demolition would cost 250 – 300 million Yen (3.2 – 3.84 million USD) with no cost to owners
– Owners agreed to demolish but not rebuild the apartments
– More details here

Source: MONEYzine, December 3, 2011.