Letter from CAIRC
April 1999 Vol.3 No.1

Apartments Enabling Better Coexistence Between People and Pets Being Built One after Another!

Revised, Expanded Edition of Textbook, "Living with Dogs and Cats in Multi-Unit Housing — Together with Companion Animals," Now Complete! Free Distribution to Recommence in Late April.

Ten thousand copies of the revised, expanded edition of the well-received textbook, "Living with Dogs and Cats in Multi-Unit Housing — Together with Companion Animals," have been completed. Beginning in late April, they will be distributed free of charge. People who live in multi-unit housing and are interested in keeping a pet, or people who want a textbook for a lecture class or reference material for drawing up pet-keeping regulations, are invited to apply to the Companion Animal Information and Research Center (CAIRC) to receive this textbook. The revised, expanded edition is packed with new information, and its contents have been extensively rewritten so as to be even easier to read.

This textbook was originally published last February, as part of the Center's efforts to foster better relationships between people and pets. By the end of the year, there were few left in stock, and to those who requested a copy this year, we have so far unfortunately been unable to comply. However, the large response to this textbook has given us at CAIRC a renewed appreciation of the great interest that exists in how people and animals should live together.

In the past year the textbook has been distributed to numerous dog and cat owners, companies, organizations, and more, and has been used in both training classes and lecture classes. The breakdown of its recipients is: 805 general applicants (pet owners), 541 apartment management companies, 398 construction and real estate companies, 308 animal-related organizations, 215 government bodies, 145 residential unions at multi-unit housing, 46 veterinarians and veterinary associations, and 240 miscellaneous. Since its distribution began, we have received numerous letters of gratitude from people in government, management companies, pet-owner associations, etc., who have also rated the textbook's contents highly. We of CAIRC, whose aim is better coexistence between people and animals, are deeply gratified that so many people have found value in using the textbook.

Last year we also received communications from numerous people in real estate about keeping pets in multi-unit housing. Last May, in Vol. 2 No. 3 of this newsletter, we reported the results of a survey conducted by the Recruit Company Housing Information Weekly - namely, that 77% of real estate companies have some kind of plan for pets-allowed apartment. We therefore decided to go and talk to some of these real estate companies and find out their views on the matter. The highlights of what we learned are presented below.

Mitsubishi Estate to Begin Selling Its First Condominiums
Designed for Pets!

This spring, numerous real estate companies are selling condominiums designed for pets and soliciting tenants for them. In May, Mitsubishi Estate will begin selling the condominiums in Kiyose Park House, building designed for pets in Kiyose City, a suburb of Tokyo. When completed, this family-oriented, 8-story complex will contain 114 units with an average floor space of 80-90 square meters. Much forethought has been given to keeping pets here: the units are being equipped with such pet-related facilities as a foot wash and waste flush outside the entrance, and will be optionally provided with a cloth which is difficult to be damaged. Ms. Yoshiko Iwamoto, of Mitsubishi Estate's Housing Operations Department 2, a division in charge of planning, had this to say: "This is the first time that Mitsubishi Estate has planned condominiums designed for pets. As a result, there were a lot of difficulties. But there are people who want to live with pets in condominiums, and we wanted to accommodate them. Before building Kiyose Park House, we sent out a questionnaire to people who live in the neighborhood; we got about 600 responses, which we used as reference in the planning. While there were many favorable comments about each unit having its own parking space and natural materials being used wherever possible in the construction, there were also many positive remarks about being able to keep pets. Because of its highly natural environment and good location, this area has many people who place importance on living healthfully. In building condominiums where pets are allowed, we feel we are providing another way to get the most out of this location. But while this will be a building where pets are allowed, it will not be exclusively for pet owners. I don't think you could say it has a lot of facilities expressly for pets. Our idea was to have pets treated not as something special, but rather as a natural part of daily life. We have therefore incorporated the concept of keeping pets into the structure and operation of the building, rather than tacking on special pet hardware as sort of an afterthought.

"For example, in multi-unit housing where pets are allowed, it is proper manners to pick up and carry your dog through the building's common areas. Accordingly, we are only allowing small pets in the condominiums on the second floor and higher; and so that medium-sized dogs can be kept in the first-floor condominiums, we are connecting each of these to a common garden by an individual passageway, by which the condominium can be directly entered and exited. We are also thinking about establishing pet-keeping rules and restricting the types and number of dogs that can be kept. That would help us to reduce the built-in pet facilities to the necessary minimum, which is something we want to do for the sake of the occupants who don't keep pets. That is, we want to create a building in which people that keep pets and people that don't keep pets can live together harmoniously."

Many of Mitsubishi Estate's properties are managed by another member of the Mitsubishi Group, Diamond Community, which will also manage Kiyose Park House following its completion next March. Part of this company's role is to support the start-up of residential unions and pet owners' clubs. Katsuhisa Ichizuka, a section representative in the company's Business Planning Department, is enthusiastic about these efforts. "With the Kiyose Park House," he said, "we're going to help start up a pet owners' club at the same time that we assist with the start-up of the building's residential unions. Of course, it's the tenants who will take the lead in creating these organizations. But if these get off to a good start, they usually go smoothly afterwards, which makes our job easier. You might think that two organizations require twice the work, but that's not really the case, I think."

The Key to Making a Success of Pets-Allowed Housing Is Real Estate and Management Companies Supporting Communication among the Tenants

The Kiyose Park House will be completed next year, but the system for it is already being created. However, the situation there will be significantly different than that at the leased, pet owners-only condominiums whose occupancy began this April. These are in Marche Koganei Park, a building constructed by the Smile Corporation, a company that handles city housing and numerous other properties in the Tamagawa area. Marche Koganei Park contains a total of eight, 2LDK units targeted at couples without children. Occupancy began on April 1. An orientation meeting that is also intended as an opportunity for the tenants and their pets to meet each other is scheduled for April 11. The neighborhood, which includes Koganei Municipal Park and the Tamagawa Canal, is rich in greenery — an ideal environment for keeping pets. As for facilities, there is a flush toilet for discarding waste brought back from walks, a foot wash, and a common leisure area equipped with hooks for attaching leashes. Consideration was also given to pets in designing the living space. For example, the floors are barrier free (they have no differences in level) and are also cushioned so as to prevent injury to the legs and loins of pets.

We spoke with Mr. Hikaru Uchida, the person in charge of pets-allowed apartments in Smile's Leasing Operations Department, who has been involved with this project since its planning stages. "In creating pets-allowed condominiums," he said, "the biggest issues are the tenants' awareness of the problems and their communication with each other. While managing a building, I also like to be like a "messenger boy" (laughs) — someone who goes around to the different tenants, listening to them and facilitating relations between them. Handing out maps that show the veterinary hospitals, parks and so on in the neighborhood, holding the orientation meeting on the eleventh — I try to deal attentively with each and every unit. That way I can build trust between management and the tenants, which then facilitates communication among the tenants themselves. If you don't know your neighbor, then, if something happens, it can grow into a problem. But if a trusting relationship has been established, the matter can be handled on that basis, which means fewer complaints, including about pets, to our company."

The condominiums in Kiyose Park House will be sold, while those in Marche Koganei Park are being leased. The number of units in each building is different. Each building is also being handled differently. Which is probably why the efforts of both companies have attracted much attention.

"In the 1980s," said Section Representative Ichizuka, "the management regulations for almost all multi-unit housing prohibited the keeping of pets. In actuality, however, many people kept pets surreptitiously, as a result of which not a few problems arose. No matter how much you try to keep a pet in a way that doesn't bother the neighbors, since it's prohibited in the regulations, it is something that should not be done. But regulations are only established for the purpose of preventing tenants from bothering each other. And if tenants can keep pets without bothering their neighbors, then why not let them? Management companies have thus recently been moving in the direction of accommodating different tenant lifestyles. That's also because it's unnatural if, in a building of 100 units, there isn't one that has a pet. Both real estate companies and management companies have been changing quite a bit, I think."

At present, condominium buildings that can accommodate diverse lifestyles are being built one after another, and pets-allowed buildings are certainly among them. Of course, this trend has only just begun. It could probably be said that many construction and real estate companies are still feeling their way ahead on this issue. However, the first steps towards a society — which is sure to come — where people and animals harmoniously coexist have clearly already been taken.