(original photo by Scott Robinson; CC BY 2.0)

Renting through a Japanese Agency

If you are planning to stay in Japan for a long time and have enough funds to pay the initial fees, it may be more cost-effective in the long run to get a traditional Japanese-style contract. You may need a Japanese citizen to act as a guarantor (there are guarantor agencies you can use if this is not an option) and you will likely have to purchase your own furniture.

Here is a rundown of the various costs you can expect when you rent through a Japanese agency:

Rent 家賃 (Yachin) Paid each month.
Maintenance fee 管理費 (Kanrihi) Paid monthly with the rent
Key money 礼金 (Reikin) Non-refundable upfront payment to the landlord. It usually accounts to approximately 1 to 3 month’s rent. Accommodations designed for shorter term stays or for instance, residents from overseas will often not be charged Reikin.
Deposit 敷金 (Shikikin) Upfront cost, returned when you move out, as long as your rent has been paid up. The cost of any repairs or cleaning may be deducted.
Guaranty money 保証金 (Hoshōkin)
Agent’s fee 仲介手数料 (Chūkai-Tesuryō) Commission paid to the real estate agent that helped to close the deal. Consumption tax may be charged.
Renewal fee 更新料 (Koshinryō) A fee paid to the landlord if you would like to rent the room for another lease term. A lease term is generally 2 years, and the fee is usually about 1 month’s rent.
Fire insurance 火災保険 (Kasai hoken) Required at most rented rooms, usually charged when signing the contract to rent the room.
Fees to change the door keys 鍵交換費用 / Kagi koukanhiyō A fee may be charged to change the keys to the property (to discourage break-ins, etc.)

Other things to consider when choosing a house/apartment (usually mentioned in listing)

  • Train station/line
  • Distance from bus stop
  • Nearby supermarkets and convenience stores

Real Estate Agents

When you make an application to rent a dwelling, you will be required to provide employment and salary information, your alien registration card (or passport if you have not yet registered), and your personal seal or signature. A guarantor for the application is also a common requirement. Your company’s Human Resource Department should be able to offer advice and assistance.

Housing is usually rented through real estate agents. While many local real estate offices do not provide services in foreign languages, there are some that specialize in providing properties to foreign customers and can give you advice and assistance in English.

See also: the list of Real Estate Agents .

Listen to the podcast episode Moving to Japan on SoundCloud – here, an expat talks about his experience finding an apartment in Japan and shares is comments on Japanese housing/renting situation and the procedures, etc.

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