Tokyo Landlords Lose Century-Old ‘Gift Money’ as Rents Slump

After viewing almost 100 Tokyo apartments, banker Damien Cambon was happy to discover that a Japanese tradition dating back more than a century is dying: the payment of up to two months’ rent extra as a gift to the landlord.

“Reikin,” or “gift money,” a non-refundable fee on top of a deposit and any broker fees that has helped boost landlords’ earnings since at least 1897, is the latest victim of a slump in the market in the world’s second-most expensive city. Rents in Tokyo’s five central wards fell to an average 4,165 yen per square meter in June, the lowest since the Japan Real Estate Institute started tracking prices in 1998.

“My broker would say, ‘forget about the gift money,’ and the landlords would all say, ‘OK,’” said Cambon, 29, who works for a U.S.-based bank he declined to name. “This was a very good surprise.”

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