Kobe International Community Center

Renting an apartment room in Japan

Renting an apartment room in Japan usually requires visiting real estate agents and reading housing magazines to gather information. Finding a satisfactory room apartment is difficult even for Japanese and a large amount of money is needed. The Japanese leasing system is quite unique and it is important to be informed.

Choosing an apartment room
①Budget
Rent is paid monthly and it is recommended to keep your rent within 25 to 30% of your monthly income. It is wise to keep in mind that initial expenditure (payment required when signing a lease agreement) will run to the equivalent of four to six months of rent. Building maintenance fees (building management fees, electricity costs for common areas and cleaning costs) may be included in the rent or paid as a separate charge.
②ApartmentRoom type
1 jo (1 tatami mat or 1.65 m2) indicates size, ie; 6 jo is approx. 10m2 2LDK: the numeral indicates the number of rooms, L is a living area, D is a dining area, and K is a kitchen. The combination of numerals and letters gives an indication of the apartmentroom layout.
③Location
Rent in popular areas or near a station is considerably high and if you are looking for convenience it can be very difficult to find an affordable place. It may be easier to find somewhere simply by changing railway line. Consult your real estate agent.
  • Distance to the station, does the express train stop?
  • Local supermarkets, convenience stores, parks, schools and hospitals.
NB: Your application for a rental contract may be refused if your period of stay is too short (less than one year) or if the date you wish to move in is too distant.

The contract
Guarantor
when renting an apartment room in Japan you will need a Japanese guarantor who has a regular income to co-sign the lease. If you do not pay your rent on time or pay for damage done to the room apartment during your tenancy then the landlord has the right to request payment from your guarantor. In other words, your guarantor will legally assume your debts in your place. It will be very difficult to find a guarantor amongst casual acquaintances or friends. Even for Japanese it is very difficult to find a guarantor who is not a relative.
If you cannot find a guarantor then you could approach a housing guarantor service company.
Security deposit
shikikin, is money paid to the owner to cover damage or other problems occurring during tenancy. When you vacate the room apartment then any money left over after cleaning and repairs will be refunded to you.
Key money
reikin (naming may change according to the area), is money paid to the owner as a gift and is non-refundable. In recent years the number of rooms apartments that do not require either a security deposit or key money is increasing but in these cases enrollment in a rent insurance fund is often required.
Agent commission
chukaitesuryo is a sum equivalent to one months' worth of rent paid to the real estate agent when the contract is signed.
Rent prepayment
rent in Japan is typically paid in advance. The first months' rent will be paid when you sign your contract. If you sign your contract in the middle of the accounting period you will be asked to pay rent at the daily rate for the days left in that month as well as possibly the next months' rent.
Lock changing fee
depending on the wishes of a new tenant the locks may be changed and a lock changing fee may or may not be charged. In order to prevent trouble in case a previous tenant has made copies of the keys the landlord may require that the locks are changed. It is a good idea to confirm in advance.
Fire insurance
in most cases it is obligatory for tenants to have fire insurance. Costs are around 15,000 to 30,000 yen and are paid when the contract is signed.

Items to check when signing the contract
Covenants
Conditions concerning pets, trash, playing of instruments, refurbishing and, subletting vary for each property. Non-adherence will cause trouble between you and your neighbors.
Furniture
Most Japanese rental properties are unfurnished. It is important to check if air-conditioners and cooking ranges in the apartmentroom are provided by the landlord (in which case you will need to check if permission will be required to replace them) or if they were left by a previous tenant. It is advisable to take a tape measure when inspecting an apartment room to ensure that appliances and furniture you already own can fit.
Renewal fees
In Japan, when a contract is renewed a renewal fee is required. This varies from property to property but is usually one months' rent for a two year lease.
- When you vacate the property requirements for returning the property to its original state differ according to real estate agent and can be the cause of controversy. Any expenses incurred to return an apartment room to its original state and cleaning are deducted from the security deposit before it is refunded. Beware of smoking in the roomapartment, putting holes in the walls with nails or pins, scratching the floor and leaving a mess or grime. If there is damage to the room apartment when you move in you should notify the real estate agent or the owner immediately.

Real Estate information
The following sites offer information on renting in Japan
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