Update: Square Enix has investigated the matter, and found no instance of demolition emails not being sent to users. Still, they did remind everyone to ensure the email tied to players' Square Enix account is up to date. Additionally, they are asking players whose houses may have been demolished to submit a bug report either via the official forums, or the relevant region's support system. Alternatively, players can contact GMs in game for help too. The original story continues below.
Players are reporting that player-owned houses in Final Fantasy XIV are being demolished without warning. Multiple reports across multiple servers warrant a warning on both the FFXIV Reddit page and a thread on the forums. Reportedly, GMs and player support are acknowledging the issue by fully reimbursing affected players, but they are currently unable to fully restore the lost houses. There is also a report of an end-game weapon losing its enhancement, but it's hard to draw a definitive link between the two events.
What's terrifying for players in FFXIV is that houses are being demolished just days after the owner visits. Player houses in Final Fantasy XIV work on a timer: don't visit your house for a set period of time, and it's "automatically reclaimed." If your house is reclaimed, you get 80% of the land fee back, as well as all of your furnishings. The timer is a generous 45 days, with warning emails sent out ten and three days before the scheduled demolition. Curiously, there are reports that the warning email system isn't working as far back as May this year.
There is some speculation that the current housing issues could be tied to the subscription-based Final Fantasy XIV Companion app. The app provides a way for players to organize inventories and manage market listings. It was supposed to provide a way to chat with guilds and friend groups, but that appears to be missing from the final version. The subscription service is also not working at this time. While it's possible that data could have been restructured in order to support the app, housing management is not a feature of the app, so the link seems tenuous at best.
While losing some of the money that the user paid for the plot is frustrating, more damage is caused by the loss of the housing plot itself. Every server has a hard limit of 4320 housing slots for players and guilds. On smaller, less populated servers, losing the plot means little, as there are still plenty of slots for houses left available. On larger, more active servers, however, loss of a plot means the user or guild could be waiting weeks to find another spot to put a house if they ever find one again after all.
Housing shortages are no longer limited to real-world cities, but in-game, too. The housing crisis is something Director Naoki Yoshida is intimately aware of. Earlier this year, changes were instituted so that players could only own one personal plot of land, solving a problem where exorbitantly wealthy players would squat on land. Still, housing in and of itself is meant for the wealthy regardless; the house by itself costs several million Gil, not to mention all the furnishings that can decorate the interiors.
It is worth noting that Square Enix can and has turned off the demolition timers in the past. Most recently, they were disabled because of the extreme heat and flooding that struck Japan. The North American data centers had demolition disabled last year in response to the widespread flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. Square Enix has not yet disabled automatic housing demolition, which would seem like the next logical step in the bug-solving process. We will update this story as new information is available.