Letter from CAIRC
March 2000 Vol.4 No.1

Real Estate Companies Are Finally
Taking Better Coexistence of People and Companion Animals Seriously

"Living With Dogs and Cats in Collective Housing" Goes into Third Printing — Free Distribution Continues

The textbook "Living with Dogs and Cats in Collective Housing" has undergone a third printing of 20,000 copies, and we continue to distribute the text free of charge. Anyone living in collective housing and interested in keeping pets, educators who would like to use it as a textbook, or those who need a useful reference for establishing rules concerning pet-keeping are welcome to apply to the Companion Animal Information and Research Center (CAIRC) for the book. Application instructions may be found at the end of this newsletter.

We published this textbook first in February 1998 as part of our overall effort to promote a better life together for human beings and pets. In April last year we published a new edition, and have distributed about 20,000 copies so far. Over the past two years, we have received many requests from people interested in keeping pets in collective housing, which depleted our stock. So we decided to print 20,000 more copies this time.

Also, CAIRC held a symposium, "Living with Pets in Collective Housing," last fall for members of housing-related industries. More than 300 people participated in this gathering, for what proved to be a very large event. Big responses to the textbook and strong interest shown by people from housing-related industries at the symposium are evidence that many people are seriously tackling issues related to the coexistence of people and pets. CAIRC will commit itself to supporting each of these real estate companies working on pets-allowed housing.

In this newsletter, we explore the future potential of pets-allowed collective housing by including results of questionnaires for members of housing-related industries who participated the symposium, as well as opinions from developers already building pets-allowed collective housing.

CAIRC Symposium Questionnaire: 55 Percent of Real - Estate Companies Planning or Building Pets-Allowed Collective Housing.

The symposium was held on October 18, 1999, and featured lectures by three experts, as well as a video produced by CAIRC to raise awareness of coexistence between people and pets in collective housing. About 320 people from fields such as real estate, the media and animal organizations took part. The questionnaire was distributed among those in the real estate business. The following are some of the interesting responses we gleaned from the 141 survey sheets collected.

First, 16 percent of developers said they had already sold pets-allowed collective housing plans, and intend to continue to do so, while 1 percent said they had sold such housing but have no plans to do so again. Of all respondents, 39 percent said they are currently planning or will soon plan such housing developments. Eighteen percent said they have yet to decide on the matter and 26 percent gave no response. In sum, 55 percent of the total are either now planning or will soon begin planning pets-allowed collective housing projects.

As for their impressions of the symposium, more than 65 percent said it left them with a good understanding of the current state of affairs. Here are several notable opinions expressed: "The video introduction was very good. I hope more people get a chance to see it" (a woman in the housing management service business); "So far pets have not been permitted very much, but it was interesting to see the examples in the video on Kobe City" (a man in the construction business); "Through the lectures, I came to understand the importance of coexistence between people and pets" (a man in the real estate business); "I believe that the public administration's involvement in building pets-allowed collective housing will encourage many landlords to change their thinking on future condominium construction" (a woman in the real estate business).

These are just some of the many opinions in support of the content of the video shown at the symposium. We still cannot say that a consensus has been reached about having pets at collective housing, but it is certain that some public administrations have recognized the advantages of having pets and have actually begun building pets-allowed housing. This is an indication that society itself has begun to change. The opinion was also expressed that "it was too bad we had little time for a question and answer session," (a man in the real estate business). In fact, many questions were raised about facilities and regulations on keeping pets, but not all could be answered due to time limitations. However, we asked experts to give advice and answers in response to such questions, and were able to get back to the questioners with the information.

Condominiums Built in 1996 or Later Are Pets-Allowed
— Tokyo Tatemono Co.

As shown in the results of the questionnaires at the symposium, many companies are either building or planning pets-allowed condominiums. However, the overall industry system that would facilitate such projects is far from complete. At the present stage, each company has to conduct its own marketing and independently lay its own groundwork. Still, the fact remains that such companies are building condominiums based on detailed surveys and by taking into account users' needs. We talked with two developing company officials.

Masaki Asanuma, deputy manager of the development planning division at Tokyo Tatemono Co., said: "Since the building of 'Plein Vert Iruma Musashino' (8 stories, 176 units) in 1996, our company's products have generally been pets-allowed, except for those built jointly with other companies. Among condominiums in the city center area, we did not specially change the designs of facilities, but enriched what we call 'software' — things like preparing detailed rules on pet keeping and setting up a pet-owners' group at the same time as we set up a condominium management association. As for condominiums built in suburbs, we provide interior design changes such as offering options for wallpaper and carpets that better withstand the dirt and damage often associated with pets. At any rate, for both pet-owners and non-pet-owners to live comfortably, it is important to make not just detailed specifications but also detailed rules."

At Tokyo Tatemono, the quarterly journal Suteki-na Sumai ("Wonderful Housing"), distributed to buyers and prospective customers of housing, sometimes includes features on pets. Issue No. 37 issued this March included an article based on the results of a questionnaire for its housing circle members concerning housing and pets. The article revealed that one out of four households owned pets, and such results are taken into account in determining users' needs. The same issue also included an article on the Good Idea Award event, which had pets as its theme.

"Initially we did not appeal to prospective clients by stressing that the housing would be pets-allowed. But when we did so upon building suburban condominiums, many prospective customers showed interest," said Asanuma, adding that he became certain that there is strong demand for pets-allowed housing.

Meanwhile, Sanwa Kosan Co. in southern Japan's Oita prefecture is also eagerly working on pets-allowed condominium projects. The condominium "Nakakasuga" (11 stories, 21 units), which it will put on sale this September and deliver in October next year, is a condominium for which Sanwa Kosan President Shunichi Takasaki himself gathered information and thoroughly considered pet issue. Since it will also manage the building after sales, company staff and Takasaki himself plan to begin studying in April to become certified pet care advisors.

Takasaki said: "I lived in a condominium sold by our company and owned a pet. I myself faced the pet issue. I know from my own experience that having a pet around is very conducive to children's psychological growth. Also, in the case of an elderly couple living in my neighborhood, their pet was their emotional mainstay. Since urbanization has stepped up, even in regional cities, I believe pets are an important way for people to soothe their emotions, and they provide an important link to other people as well. That is a major reason behind our building of this condominium."

At "Nakakasuga," foot-washing and waste disposal areas were placed on the shared area of the first floor while sinks were installed on each floor's balcony. Among individual-use areas, electrical outlets were installed at relatively high positions in response to cats' behavior, while wallpaper was divided at the waist-height for the same reason. Air purifiers were installed in the rooms and also cleats for temporarily holding leashes were set up near the entrance, while hard cork was used for flooring. As for "software", they plan to carry out various activities such as a tie-up with an animal hospital to conduct annual health checkups, as well as create rules governing pet-ownership. They also plan to create an agreement on pet-ownership intended for residents who do not own pets.

The Potential of Pets-Allowed Condominiums Expands with Cooperation by Industry and Pet-Owners

During Tokyo Tatemono's four years of experience with pets-allowed condominium construction, an unexpected problem has occurred.

"We had a buyer who owns a guide dog for the blind," said Asanuma. "But, according to rules on pet ownership, there were several problems such as the size of the dog. Therefore, we added a new clause to the pet ownership rules, according to which 'a guide dog for blindness or other disability, designated by clause 2, article 8 of the Road Traffic Act, is exempted," said Asanuma.

There is no doubt that pets-allowed condominiums will increase in the future. As each company develops its business strategy, pet awareness will become increasingly a matter of common sense. Tokyo Tatemono's new "Free Plan System" is an example.

"Under this system, our company provides land and builds a condominium together with our customers, so we are able to respond to each customer's needs. Of course, we need to build a consensus with residents in the neighborhood as well. But it is possible to have a plan in which customers who want to own pets take the lead in building pets-allowed condominiums," said Asanuma.

Meeting increasingly diverse needs is a good thing, but since pets are living creatures, they do pose a wide range of issues. However, CAIRC is aware of the important role companion animals play, and believes that coexistence between people and animals will better change our lives. Real estate-related companies have finally begun full-fledged work in this area. CAIRC would like to respond in many ways and continue our support for people's efforts toward coexistence between people and animals.