Renting your first apartment in Japan can be challenging. This is some information that could be helpful!
If you’re looking into renting an apartment in Japan, you’re probably feeling a bit confused. You might be wondering what “key money” is or how long leases are in Japan. Here’s a guide to various fees and rules you need to know about when you’re renting your first apartment in Japan.
Deposits and Key Money
You’re probably familiar with the concept of deposits, which require you to pay a sum of money (usually equivalent to a month of rent) before you move in. Unless you’ve caused damage to the place you’re renting, you’ll get the deposit back when you move out. However, you might be wondering what key money is. It’s a custom that dates back to the end of World War II when many parts of Japan were being rebuilt and finding housing was difficult. During this time, key money was a gift tenants would give owners to express gratitude for being allowed to live on their property. Even though much more housing is available in Japan these days, you are still likely to have to pay key money. Unlike deposits, key money is not refundable. Many apartments in Japan will require you to pay both a deposit and key money so be ready with at least 1 month of your rent just in case. In doubt, if you have to pay this key money, do not hesitate asking your rental agency about it!
If a real estate firm is contracted to rent out the apartment you want to live in, you may have to pay a brokerage fee. This fee is usually the equivalent of one month’s rent. If you are renting directly from the company that owns the property, you typically won’t have to pay a brokerage fee.
Lock Change Fees
Many landlords charge lock change fees when new tenants move in. This is because they install a new lock for every tenant. The cost of changing locks is passed onto the tenant, who typically pays around ¥10,000 to ¥20,000.
Many apartments require tenants to have a guarantor, or person who will pay rent in the event that the tenant cannot, sign their rental agreement. While some Japanese people are required to have a guarantor (especially if they do not have a stable income), foreigners can rarely rent in Japan without one. Guarantors must be Japanese citizens. If you can’t find a Japanese person to be your guarantor, there are guarantor companies you can use. However, you have to pass their audit and pay a fee that ranges from 50% to 120% of your rent.
Documents Needed When Renting an Apartment
You will need to provide documents proving your identity when you apply for an apartment. Driver’s licenses, insurance cards, resident cards, and alien registration certificates are acceptable. You will also need to provide a payslip from last month as proof of your income. As mentioned earlier, depending on the results of your document screening, you may be asked to provide additional documents.
It can be difficult to find an apartment that allows pets in Japan. Many landlords don’t allow pets, and if they do, you’ll probably have to pay extra fees. However, even if some properties might not officially allow pets, they could be open to letting you have small birds, fish, or turtles on a case-by-case basis. Again, if in doubt, just ask!
Most apartment leases in Japan are two years long. There are penalties for canceling during the first 24 months of your contract. If you cancel within 12 months of starting the contract, you will have to pay 3 months’ rent and a cleaning fee. If you cancel after 12 months (but within 24 months) of starting the contract, you will be charged 2 months rent and a cleaning fee.
You’ll have to pay for fire insurance for pretty much every apartment in Japan. Prices vary between Eastern Japan and Western Japan, but you can expect to pay about ¥10,000 to ¥20,000. Contract conditions and promotion campaigns being run at the time you move in can also change the cost of fire insurance.