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Property Management Companies in Sapporo

After you buy property in Sapporo, certain ongoing responsibilities are required to protect your investment and satisfy legal requirements. In addition to requirements related to real estate taxes, there are duties related to property management that have to be performed by the property owner, or perhaps by a Sapporo property management company.

In this article we will highlight some of the functions that are commonly provided by a property manager in Hokkaido. For more information about English-speaking property management companies, please contact us. We are happy to make a referral.

Property Management Companies in Hokkaido

Property owners in Hokkaido have certain responsibilities related to the ownership of property in Japan. For full-time residents, living on the property is a constant reminder of what needs to be done and when. For part-time residents, or for those investing in rental properties in Sapporo, ongoing requirements and maintenance can be more of a challenge. Both local investors and foreigners that own property in Sapporo often benefit from the services of a local property management company.

After signing the sales contract, one needs to think about to whom the management of the valuable property should be entrusted… the task can always be delegated to a trusted third party.
— SMICA Corporation, from the book Winning Strategies for Japan Real Estate

Below are several criteria to consider as you hire a local property management company in Sapporo.

Property Management Services

Owning property in Japan creates challenges that can be solved by a local Sapporo property management company. Some primary areas of service include:

  • Advertising and renting the property to tenants
  • Making repairs and performing property maintenance duties
  • Managing financial matters including paying taxes and local bills, collecting rent, working with homeowners’ associations, etc.

While many Sapporo property management companies can provide all these services, the specific contract you establish should address any and all services you expect to be performed on your behalf.

For English-speaking property management companies in Niseko, Sapporo, Otaru, or other cities in Hokkaido, contact us for more details.

Leasing and Rental Agents in Sapporo

For property owners that want to rent out a condominium to a tenant, or several units in a building or a block apartment, local Sapporo rental agents that can manage tenants and renters provide a valuable service.

A Sapporo leasing agent can help advertise your unit, communicate with potential renters, show your property, complete tenant lease agreements, collect the rent (and fees for moving into an apartment), wire money (to foreign investors, in the case of rental income), and other functions. Some of these services can be done as a one-time contract, or as part of an ongoing monthly agreement.

When you have an ongoing relationship with a property management company that manages tenants in Hokkaido, they can collect the rent, as well as manage requests from your tenants (for repairs, etc), and operate as your representative for dealing with third parties such as local utilities, the ownership association that manages the building, paying local taxes and more. Some of those activities can be expected, and some (like repairs) can come as a surprise, and need to be handled quickly.

Renting/letting agents in Sapporo are also useful when a tenant moves out. As a tenant moves out of your property, there is a range of activities that need attention; including a tenant move-out inspection, an assessment of the condition of the rental unit, decisions about cleaning and property improvements (new wallpaper, for instance), hiring vendors to perform that maintenance, and issuing the former tenant any monies due for deposits. As that work is completed, the unit then needs to be rented out, and the work of finding a new tenant begins again.

Not all leasing agents in Sapporo provide full property management, but that may be a possibility. You can negotiate each service as you sign a contract to manage your property in Sapporo, or add those services as needed over time.

It can be wise to talk to several companies. As you begin your search, contact us and we can arrange for several introductions.

Property Maintenance and Repairs in Sapporo

If you purchase a second home in Hokkaido, or as you invest in Sapporo rental property, some repairs and maintenance are to be expected. For multi-unit buildings in Sapporo, daily cleanings, security, and regular facility inspections are also the responsibility of the owner.

There is some predictable amount of building maintenance before you move into a house or condominium (or as a tenant moves into your property). There will be times when something breaks, when there is damage to the property, instances where you might want to remodel or make other capital improvements, and certain building upkeep after a tenant moves out.

A good property manager has a network of vendors, Sapporo architects, and construction companies in Sapporo that can make repairs, remodel, or make additions to the property. Experienced property management providers know the best local providers, can take action more quickly, and can manage communication with Japanese-speaking vendors; all of which can save you time and money, and protect your investment.

Seasonal Property Maintenance in Hokkaido

As Sapporo has a cold winter, there is work that needs to be performed based on the seasons.

The cold temperatures in Hokkaido cities sometimes require that the water is either actively in use in a warm unit, or shut off before winter arrives (so the pipes don’t freeze and cause damage to the unit). In other cases, the removal of snow may be a service that is desired (or required) for a given property.

A good building maintenance company in Sapporo can visit the unit, provide services (like shutting off the water and draining the pipes), and can arrange for snow removal (as an ongoing service, or before a property owner comes to visit).

In warmer seasons, your management company can arrange for building inspections, painting or sealing the building, matters related to the roof, for landscaping duties such as tree trimming, gardening, and other homeowner services in Sapporo.

Short-term Rentals and Minpaku Management in Sapporo

There are investors who buy a building in Sapporo with the sole intention of investing in that property and collecting ongoing rent (typical long-term leases). However, other property owners will want to use their property occasionally, and may want to rent their unit on a per-night, per-week, per-month basis (such as typically seen on Airbnb in Japan). In Japan, these short-term vacation rentals are called “minpaku.” This kind of request, where a vacation home is sometimes rented out, is especially common for Niseko property management companies.

While many large buildings expressly prohibit these kinds of short-term rentals, in cases where you own your a detached home in Sapporo, or in resorts where this activity is more common, property management companies may be available to help you book short term rentals, to issue keys to visitors, to clean the unit, provide maintenance, to make monthly visits for simple cleaning or to air out the unit, or to prepare the unit for the owner before they arrive for a visit.

Banks, Taxes, and Paying Bills

In addition to keeping your unit occupied and caring for the building, Hokkaido property management companies in Sapporo can manage many financial concerns related to your property.

A property management company can make payments on your behalf including bills related to utilities, building management fees, maintenance contributions for the building, as well as remittances for taxes.

As it can be difficult to get a bank account in Japan as a non-resident, a property management company may be a convenient way for a foreigner with property in Japan to manage income and expenses.

If you hire a leasing agent in Sapporo, a specialist that manages tenants can collect the rent each month, and hold that money in an account for you (including rental deposits). Then, as bills become due, those monthly expenses for property can be paid from that account, including property taxes and national taxes related to income from rental units.

Additionally, if you are not a resident, you will need a local Japanese tax representative to manage your tax obligations in Japan. The function of a tax representative for foreigners living in Japan can be performed by a local Japanese lawyer, or can also be a service of a Japanese property management company. A property management company that has expertise with taxes in Japan can be especially useful. Having a property management company that can both pay bills and to act as your tax representative is a valuable service.

If you collect rent on your property in Hokkaido, or plan to deduct property expenses from your taxes (in Japan or abroad), your property management company can provide accounting for your investment, communicate with local Japanese tax specialists, or prepare basic information that can be shared with a tax preparation service in a foreign country.

For foreigners that own individual units or condominiums in Sapporo, there is typically an association (sometimes called an HOA or a “owners corporation”) that makes group decisions for common areas of the building, and for general decisions about building maintenance. As an owner, you have a vote in those shared decisions, and a property manager can act on your behalf to communicate information and to provide your input on important shared decisions.

Reports from Your Property Management Company

Ongoing communication with your property management company will help you stay informed as to the status of your investment. Regular communication can improve the relationship with your property manager, which may help ensure you receive better service and value from the property management company.

As you establish your relationships with the property management company, ask questions about (and make specific requests for) regular reporting. Regular accounting statements that show income and expenses can be a good place to begin. Separate reporting about the maintenance schedule and results of that maintenance work could be included. Planning should include a full report about tax obligation and important tax deadlines. Monthly, quarterly, or annual reports may be appropriate for various updates.

Hiring a Property Manager in Hokkaido

When considering who to hire to manage your property in Sapporo, we advise our clients to consider the experience of the property management company, examples of their reporting and tax knowledge, as well as the range of services to be performed.

While there are many agents that lease property and provide building services in Sapporo, finding a property management company that can speak English may be more of a challenge. For referrals to property management companies in Hokkaido, or specific companies with experience helping foreigners with property management services in Niseko, Sapporo and beyond, please contact us. We are happy to help.

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For More Information:

— Our complete guide for Buying a House in Sapporo
— Some estimate for the Cost to Buy a House in Sapporo
— Our report on How to Rent an Apartment in Sapporo and Move-In Costs for Sapporo Apartments
— Some details on Short-Term Apartments in Sapporo
— Recent data on the Population of Niseko and Foreign Populations Living in Niseko
— The Population of Otaru
International Schools in Sapporo
— Find Lawyers in Hokkaido
— Our Taxes in Japan page
Buying Property in Hokkaido as a Foreigner

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