41. Housing Quality Assurance Low

The objective of the Law is to advance the stability of citizens' livelihood and sound development of the national economy by promoting quality assurance for housings, protecting benefits of housing purchasers and other parties, and seeking rapid and appropriate solutions to disputes regarding housings, through establishment of labeling standards for performance of housings and systems of evaluation based thereon, develop systems for settlement of disputes concerning housings, and provision of liability for defect warranty concerning contracts for servicing new housings, or buying and selling housings.

The Law sets out three main systems, which are the Housing Performance Labeling System, dispute settlement system specifically for housing matters, and system of liability for defect warranty.
Under the Housing Performance Labeling System, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister sets Japan Housing Performance Labeling Standard and the Standards of Methods for Housing Performance Evaluation (Article 3), issuance, based on evaluation of housing performance according to the above Standards, of Housing Performance Evaluation with items as set out in MLIT ordinances, when application for such Evaluation is received from Designated Housing Performance Evaluation Agencies, designated by the Minister (Article 5). Such system could be applied to both new housings as well as second-hand housings.
Although Housing Performance Labeling System is for voluntary use, the use will also allow for mediation, settlement, and arbitration from the Designated Housing Dispute Settlement Agencies, as designated by the Minister (Articles 62 and 63).
The exceptional system for liability for defect warranty sets out, as an exception to the liability for defect warranty as set out in the Civil Code, the responsibility upon contracts for servicing new housings or buying and selling new housings for rectification and compensation for defects on portions of housings which are set out in Cabinet Order as primarily important for structural strength or protection from intrusion of rainwater (Articles 87 and 88).

Enforcement Order of the Housing Quality Assurance Law
Enforcement Regulations of the Housing Quality Assurance Law

1) Items subject to regulations
New housings and existing housings (exceptional system for liability for defect warranty only concerns with new housings)

2) Outline of specifications/standards, certifications, etc.
i. Specifications and standards
1. Housing Performance Labeling System
Housing Performance Labeling System is a voluntary system, the use of which is by choice of the housing supplier, purchaser, or traders of existing housings.

a. Japan Housing Performance Labeling Standard
This Standard sets out performances of housings (including structural stability, safety upon fire, mitigation of degradation, consideration for maintenance and management, heat environment, air environment, light and visual environment, acoustical environment, considerations for the elderly) that are to be labeled, and the methods upon labeling.

b. Standards of Methods for Evaluation
This Standard sets out methods for evaluation and certification of drawings and specification documents in light of Japan Housing Performance Labeling Standard.

2. Exceptional system for liability for defect warranty
Portions and items of claims covered by the exception, as well as period of liability are provided.

a. Portions subject to the exception
(Portions of primary importance for structural strength)
Of foundation of the building, foundation piles, walls, pillars, roof truss, sill plate, bents, floorings, roof plates, horizontal members, those that sustain the weight of the housing itself, pressures from onboard weight, snow, wind, earth or water, or shocks from earthquakes and other vibrations and impacts (as equally provided in Article 1:1.3 of Enforcement Regulations of the Building Standards Law).
(Portions for prevention of rainwater intrusion)
- roofs or outer walls of housings
- doors, frames, and other building parts used for openings in roofs or outer walls of housings
- portions of drainage pipes which run over roofs, within the outer wall, or in the interior of housings

b. Items which could be claimed
- claims for rectification (no explicit provision in the buying and selling provisions of the Civil Code)
- claims for compensation of losses
- cancellation (only applies to buying and selling contracts, and only when rectification is impossible)

ii. Certification system (Housing Performance Labeling System)
1. Evaluation of housing performance by Housing Performance Evaluation Agencies
Housing Performance Evaluation Agencies (108 agencies as of November 22, 2005) are allowed, upon request from an applicant, conduct housing performance evaluation (evaluation of newly designed or newly built housings based on standards including Japan Housing Performance Labeling Standards) and issue housing performance evaluation (evaluation document with a seal).

2. Housing Model Performance Approval, etc.
To conduct housing performance evaluation efficiently, the following measures are in place.
a. Simplification of housing performance evaluation regarding standard specification documents for new housings (Housing Model Performance Approval), and simplification of housing performance evaluation for industrial housings, etc. (model-based housing portion constructor approval)
b. Application of special evaluation methods suitable for new technological developments (special evaluation method approval)

As a result of amendment to the Enforcement Regulations in September 2005, Housing Performance Evaluation Agencies are to be listed on a registration basis, instead of former designation basis (effective from March 1, 2006). In addition, "security" (measures around openings for preventing penetration) was added as a 10th performance criterion under the Housing Performance Labeling System, as a result of amendments in Japan Housing Performance Labeling Standard and the Standards for Methods of Evaluation (Application starting from April 1, 2006).

Housing Production Division, Housing Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport
Tel: 03-5253-8111
Secretariat, Council of Housing Performance Evaluation Agencies (office in Center for Better Living)
Tel: 03-5211-0564 Fax: 03-5211-0593
Center for Better Living
Sumitomo Fudosan Koji-machi Building 2, 4-5 Nibancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0084