Expat Housing Services in Japan

Japan has a dense population and many people in Japanese cities live in high rise apartment buildings. Apartments are usually rented unfurnished. There are also inexpensive temporary shared accommodations, called gaijin houses, mostly in Tokyo, where foreigners in Japan can stay for up to a month. It is also possible to temporarily rent a fully furnished apartment by the week.


Foreigners looking for an apartment should get a real estate agent to help them if they do not speak the Japanese language. They are usually paid a commission equal to one month’s rent. Leases in Japan are typically for one or two years. Renters also usually need to find a guarantor to vouch for them, usually their employer, and the guarantor also assumes financial responsibility for damages.


There are many additional fees that are often required to be paid in cash as part of moving into an apartment, such as upkeep fees and a refundable security deposit for damages, but also a non refundable amount equal to one to three months' rent is traditionally paid as a required gift to the landlord and known as 'key money'. Instead of handwritten signatures, documents are usually stamped with the signatory’s name in Japanese writing.

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