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Vacant Properties: A New Challenge for Commons Studies

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Takamura, Gatuko
Conference: Commons Amidst Complexity and Change, the Fifteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Conf. Date: May 25-29
Date: 2015
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/9864
Sector: Urban Commons
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): housing
property rights
Abstract: "Commons Studies have long struggled with the challenges posed by the overuse of finite resources. However, in Japan, where economic recession and population decrease are ongoing problems, the issue of vacant properties such as abandoned houses has become prominent. This issue arises from the underuse of resources, which produces negative externality to surrounding communities Based on my field works in Fukui prefecture, this paper examines how the community-based approach and the theory of property law should evolve in order to solve the issue of the underuse of resources. In recent years, most of Japan’s local governments have enacted ordinances that impose upon the owners of vacant properties the duty of appropriate management. However, municipal legal enforcement action is rare. It is often the neighborhood or community that persuades owners to take appropriate measures, referring to the municipal ordinance. To avoid having to undertake legal action, the municipality relies on the pressure of the community. Even though vacant properties often have the potential for habitability, the Japanese, timid around strangers, have a tendency to avoid renting or selling these properties on the market. To reduce the owner’s anxiety and to assess the personality of a newcomer, there are community-based organizations that serve as mediators between the parties. much emphasis on the homogeneity of the community—which is often an inevitable consequence of such approaches—tends to exclude diversity. This paper suggests that a rights-based approach, drawing from French Housing Law, in which housing is regarded not as private property but as a condition of human rights, and the American Landbank system’s perspective, which relies on Heller’s anticommons theory and the pursuit of efficiency, must be combined with the Japanese community-based approach. This community-based approach is effective, to some extent, although too."

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