11 Things You Need to Prepare when Renting an Apartment in Japan




I gotta tell you before I start. Renting an apartment in Japan is real hassle!

I’m Japanese but I feel so frustrated when it comes to rent an apartment in Japan. Renting in Canada is 100 times easier.

But if you are in Japan, no choice. You gotta find a place. You might be wondering where to start. Check those 11 things you need to prepare before hunting an apartment.



Do you have any idea how much it costs to rent an apartment in Tokyo? With the same amount, I could rent a big house in Canada.

Let’s see how much it costs.


(1) If you find an apartment near Shibuya station, Tokyo…

1 Studio (called 1K), 2 year-contract, 10min from Shibuya station

Rent: 100,000 yen per month

Deposit(敷金:Shikikin): 1 month of rent= 100,000 yen

Monthly Maintenance Fee: 8,000 yen

Key Exchange Fee: 24,000 yen

Insurance: 20,000 yen (for 2 years)

Total: 252,000 yen


This particular apartment doesn’t require key money.

To live in this apartment, you must have at least 252,000 yen to sign the contract. If the place is bigger and closer to station, you would of course pay more.



(2) If you find an apartment near Tennoji Station, Osaka…

1 bedroom (called 1LDK), 10 min from Tennoji Station

Rent: 80,000 yen

Deposit(敷金:Shikikin): 1 month of rent= 80,000 yen

Key Money (礼金: reikin): 2 months of rent=160,000

Monthly Maintenance fee: 3000 yen


This property doesn’t state how much Key exchange fee and insurance would be.

Based on information above, the total is 323,000 yen.


Now you see that it costs a lot to rent an apartment! And you also need to pay other bills for the Internet, hydro, electricity, etc…


If you have specific area you want to live, check vacancy and compare price. Some might charge key money, while others don’t charge at all.



 Japanese Phone Number

When landlord or a real estate agent needs to contact you, they would call you. They don’t really use email so Japanese phone number is a must. If you have a cell phone, that’s totally fine! Write down your phone number on application form.



 Japanese Bank Account

Some might allow you to pay by credit cards but most landlords require payment via your Japanese bank account. I’m sure if you have been in Japan for a while, you have an account already. If you are new to Japan, open an account because you need it later anyway for other purposes as well.




 Real Estate Agent

It might be a good idea to contact a local real estate agent to find a perfect place for you. If you have decided which area you want to live, go to local agent. They are the experts in the area. Tell them what you are looking for. What is the budget for the rent? Do you want to live near station or shops such as supermarket?

Unfortunately most of real estate agents don’t speak English or other language, so you might want to ask your friend who can speak Japanese to help you out.


 Passport and Visa



Before the agent prepare tenancy agreement, they would check your ID. Bring your passport and visa or resident card to prove you are eligible to stay in Japan.



 Emergency Contact

This could be anyone but real estate agent usually prefers any “Japanese.” The reason is because if something happens, for instance, the tenant doesn’t pay rent on time, or the tenant has damaged the property so badly but not willing to pay extra, they need to contact someone who can speak Japanese.

Some foreigners have been rejected just because they didn’t have domestic emergency contact. You might want to ask your partners, friends or co-workers.




When you sign the contract for mortgage and renting a place, Japanese tend to request a guarantor. No guarantor, no loan. No guarantor, no rent.

Sometimes, if you are lucky, your company would sign as your guarantor. However, most of the time, you would probably need to find a guarantor by yourself. Write down your guarantor’s name and contact information on tenancy agreement.



 Character Reference

This is a letter from someone who knows you. It’s personal reference and shows your traits and abilities.

Have character reference ready in Japanese so that you would give landlord and real state agent when needed.



 Employee Letter

This letter just shows you are actually employed by a company and have stable income.

Not only in Japan but also in any countries landlords will consider stable income. So have this letter ready to show them you get salary regularly and you are capable to pay the rent on time.



 Bank Statement or Pay Slip

Just show real estate agent that you can afford the place. You could simply get a bank statement to show how much saving you have.

Or get recent pay slip to show how much you’ve actually earned. Confirm with the real estate agent or landlord as they might require either or both.


 Speak Japanese

You can ask your Japanese friends or any friends who speak Japanese to help translating for you, but it’s better if you understand Japanese.

Any sort of contract is complicated and you want to make sure you understand every single sentence.

For example, it might state specific rules and conditions and pets are not allowed. You might have to notify a month before you move out, or you might have to stay until the contract ends.

Moreover, if you speak Japanese, there is a more chance that real estate agents would help you out because some agents might discriminate you just because you don’t speak Japanese.




Here are some terminologies you need to know when hunting a place.


Deposit (敷金: shikikin) It’s deposit and supposed you would get it back when moving out. However, most of the time landlord uses this money to clean and fix the room and you won’t get much left. Some require 1-2 months, and others require zero deposit.

Key Money (礼金: reikin) Some apartments require 1 or 2 months, while others require none. This is “thank you money” for landlord. Initially started in Kanto area but other areas started to charge key money. You won’t get this back.

Guarantor (保証人: hosyo-nin) When you rent an apartment or buy house, you are always asked to have a guarantor. It could be your family member, friend, relative or company.  You have to have someone. In case you don’t pay rent on time or damage property, they need other person to get payment from.




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