Renting in Japan



Japan offers tourists and expats a colourful experience like no other. Its rich and unique culture and cutting-edge technology provide a combination of tradition and innovation, blended perfectly together. However, these attractions do not come cheap. Accommodation in the country is among the most expensive in the world; purchasing prime real estate properties is attained by only a handful of foreigners.

Japanese homes are smaller than the usual western-style apartments, and their room sizes are measured by the so-called Tatami floor-mats. Japanese landlords from rural areas are quite picky with their tenants; they do not normally accept foreigners due to the language barrier. Most foreigners hire Japanese translators to negotiate rental agreements. The situation is less stringent in cities that specifically target expat-tenants. Either way, a real estate agent or a fudousan-ya can be of great help. 

Areas with high expat population are located in Tokyo and in metropolitan cities of Kawasaki, Nagoya, Osaka, and Yokohama. Despite the stellar cost of living in these areas, rental apartments called “Gaijin houses” are affordable for many expats. Gaijin houses are operated by real estate companies that specialise in expat needs. These properties are fully-furnished shared apartments that are managed by multilingual staffs.

Foreigners are required to have at least two years of residency to be a party to tenancy contracts. The following are the basic documents required in securing a lease contract:

1. Alien registration card or residency card

2. Proof of income from employer

3. Joint Surety Guarantor or Rentai Housshounin. Local government offices may act as a guarantor for an expat. 

4. Personal seal or Jitsuin which is registered at the localgovernment office.

5. Original copy of the rental contract. (For foreign nationals, it is best to proofread the English version of the contract.) 

Lease contracts in Japan usually have the following provisions:

Rental fee (Yachin) = Landlords require tenants to pay the first two months of the rental fee.

Security Deposit (Shikikin) = Shikikin covers the eventual future damage to the apartment. The deposit minus the cost of repairs is refunded when the tenant decides to move out.

Real Estate Agent’s fee (Chukai Tesuryo) = The agent fee is the amount paid to the real estate agent who assisted the expats for seeking a rental home.

Utility fees = The utility fee covers the payment for the use of electricity, gas and water paid through local commercial companies.



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