Japan Shares 8 Million Abandoned Homes To Citizens: What Ghana Can Learn To Reduce Its 2m Housing Deficit

Japan Shares 8 Million Abandoned Homes To Citizens: What Ghana Can Learn To Reduce Its 2m Housing Deficit

  • Ghana has a huge housing deficit that stands at about 2 million units, making it difficult for people to get accommodation in the country
  • The government's efforts to solve the housing crisis have not proved to be effective, such as constructing affordable housing for citizens
  • Japan is combating its housing problems by giving away 8 million abandoned houses to its citizens who need accommodation

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Ghana is one of the most expensive countries to live in and pay rent in Africa. Rent prices in Accra have gone through the roof, which makes it difficult for residents to find a decent place to stay. According to Ghana's former Minister for Works and Housing, Samuel Atta Akyea, Ghana's housing deficit has hit 2 million units.

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Former Minister for Works and Housing, Samuel Atta Akyea, speaks at an event
Former Minister for Works and Housing, Samuel Atta Akyea, speaks at an event. Photo credit: Starr FM
Source: UGC

The government of Ghana has attempted to bridge the accommodation gap in the country by employing solutions such as the Saglemi Housing Project, among others, all to no avail. In addition, Ghana's loose rent laws allow landlords to demand extended lease periods and charge exorbitant rent prices for their property.

It may seem like all hope is lost for Ghana in the real estate industry. However, some countries are making headway in the real estate sector that the government of Ghana can learn from. One such country is Japan.

Japan has a population of about 126 million people. However, up to 8 million homes are unoccupied or abandoned across the nation, and the Japanese government is putting together a scheme to decrease the number of vacant homes. This is because vacant properties are complex for homeowners to manage, and they are unwilling to pay the property taxes required.

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In other cases, unoccupied homes become the subject of vandalism, which further deteriorates the properties. As a result, these abandoned homes become significant burdens for homeowners and a nuisance for the government. To combat this, homeowners in Japan and local governments are providing these homes at meagre costs and, in many cases, even entirely free to solve the country's accommodation problem.

Some of the abandoned homes in Japan
Some of the abandoned homes in Japan. Photo credit: Inakanoseikatsu
Source: UGC

Also, many homes in Japan have been unoccupied because of the ageing population, particularly in rural areas. Many of these unoccupied homes in Japan's rural areas have become ugly and useless as young people move to larger cities. Remote homes abandoned after natural catastrophes are similarly challenging to sell and are of little interest to real estate agents.

Other reasons for the many abandoned homes in Japan are suicides, violent deaths, or murder. In addition, since many Japanese people believe in superstition, moving into such homes or even rebuilding on the same plot of land is terrible luck. This makes it even more challenging to sell these properties.

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As Japan's population declines, it is anticipated that more abandoned homes will be left behind. As a result, unoccupied houses are now making appearances in and around bigger cities, including Tokyo. Many of these 8 million houses are offered free to address this expanding issue; some owners are even ready to pay to remove them.

In some instances, local governments have set up sponsor programs to fund these properties' renovations for prospective buyers.

What Ghana Can Learn From Japan

Ghana can learn a thing or two from Japan. For starters, Ghana can revive the several affordable housing units which have been unoccupied and abandoned for a long time. The Ghana government planned to bridge the housing deficit by delivering a minimum of 85,000 housing units annually over 20 years.

Ghana must revive affordable housing scheme
Ghana must revive the affordable housing scheme. Photo credit: Modern Ghana
Source: UGC

The Ghanaian government and local banks set aside $51 million to finance the nation's abandoned housing projects. It is high time that the government kickstarted the projects to accommodate working professionals such as teachers, nurses, accountants, etc.

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In addition, the government must strictly enforce Ghana's rent laws, such that landlords cannot demand lease periods longer than six months and also not charge exorbitant rent prices. Also, the government must enforce laws that punish property owners with empty properties sitting vacant for several months.

The government can acquire such empty houses from property owners and lease them out to people who need accommodation at reasonable prices. However, many have reported that the several empty homes in Accra are products of money laundering activities. The government can bridge the gap between empty homes and people seeking accommodation by setting up a department that scrutinizes all empty properties in the city.

People guilty of using properties as a facade to launder money should have their properties annexed by the government, which should be added to the affordable housing scheme.

Speaking exclusively to YEN.com.gh, Edward Asante Osei, a Property Manager for a real estate company in Ghana, explained that:

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The Ghana government is not following through on property taxes in the country. This makes it easier for people to acquire more houses that sit empty for several years. In places like the America, people like Bill Gates may only own 3 homes because they will not want to property taxes for many properties. The Ghana government can solve the menace of empty houses by putting in stringent efforts to enforce the collection of property taxes. This will force people to rent out their houses or even sell them.

Mr Osei also added that:

The government should have incentives for property owners who rent out their apartments to people of certain income brackets, such as teachers and nurses. This will encourage more people to rent out their apartments at reasonable prices.

Why Landlords In Ghana Charge 1 Or 2 Years' Rent Advance Instead Of Charging Monthly Rent

In an earlier story, YEN.com.gh wrote about why landlords in Ghana charge two years' rent advance. Ghanaian landlords insist on longer lease terms, often requiring one or two years' payment upfront, whereas other nations only pay a monthly fee.

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Although Ghanaians have complained about the expense of paying for one or two years' worth of rent, landlords remain adamant about changing their behaviour. Additionally, the government has not put strict laws into effect to guarantee that the rental market is more favourable to Ghanaians.

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Source: YEN.com.gh

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