Guide To Renting An Apartment In Japan
The rental system of many conventional real estate companies is not very foreigner friendly. Furthermore, most landlords are naturally reluctant to rent their apartments to foreigners who are not able to communicate in Japanese. Some of them will even categorically refuse their service to non-permanent residents out of fear of frictions.
If a would-be tenant is interested in a particular apartment, the agent contacts the landlord to see if the apartment is still available and whether a visit could be arranged.
Typically, agents also require you to provide them with information about your financial background and to have a guarantor "Hoshonin - 保証人", co-sign the rental contract as another security measure. Certain conditions apply as who can serve as your guarantor. It must usually be a Japanese national with a stable financial background.
Entering a rental contract with a conventional real estate company is very expensive and time consuming. Traditionally, a number of refundable and non-refundable fees have to be paid, often totaling three to ten months' rent, depending on the company and apartment:
Generally apartments come unfurnished, utilities are not included in the rent, and pets are not allowed. In case of some apartments, a small Monthly Maintenance Fee "kanrihi - 管理費", for expenses shared by all tenants of a building may have to be paid, which is added to the Rent "Yachin - 家賃". Some landlords also may require you to insure your apartment.
Apartments are usually rented for a minimum of two years. If the renter wants to extend their stay, couple of months before the contract’s deadline, the agreement is re-negotiated. Contract Renewal Fee "Koshinryo - 更新料", is usually equivalent to one month's rent. This is another "gift" to be paid to the landlord for allowing you the privilege of renewing your contract. (History)
Japanese Apartment Layout Terms
One of the challenges of searching for property in Japan is the unique terminology used to define the size, space and conditions of a place.
Most rooms come with tatami floors or wooden floors, while fully carpeted rooms are rare. Some apartments come with both, tatami rooms and wooden floor rooms, while others do not contain any tatami room.
SLDK is an abbreviation frequently used in the world of Japanese real estate to describe apartments. It stands for Storage, Living, Dining and Kitchen area, and is preceded by the number of rooms. The number that comes before the acronym means the number of rooms separate from the LDK "basically the number of bedrooms". LDK makes up the heart of a Japanese apartment and will usually be an open-plan area of all of these combined. You’ll rarely find separate rooms with doors between your living/dining rooms and kitchen. Some examples are:
Normally, the location and age of the building and the size and position of the apartment are the main factors that determine the cost of the rent:
Location: Apartments located close to city centers are most expensive. Furthermore, the distance from the apartment to the next train station is crucial.
When talking with an agent be sure to explain exactly what you are looking for; your preferences, and any conditions that may become a deal breaker for you. Some small things that the agents usually look out for are distance from the nearest train station, whether or not the building is made out of concrete and if it has a unit bath. Once the agent has an idea of what you are looking for and your budget he/she will start suggesting places and you will be able to schedule viewings to see your potential new apartment.
There are a number of things you need in order to move into an apartment in Japan. Starting with the basics you need two forms of identification, the first one being your passport and the second can be either your visa, foreigner card, or a student ID. After that you need a Japanese phone number and a Japanese bank account. If you are employed you need proof of employment and if you are a student you need your certificate of eligibility. In addition to those you also need a copy of your bank statement or pay stub. Domestic emergency contact as well as a guarantor is required.
Real Estate Companies For Foreigners
Renting an apartment isn’t cheap and you need to pay approximately six months’ worth of rent all up front in order to rent a small apartment in Tokyo.
An industry of no-deposit apartments, called monthly mansion and weekly mansion "Guest Houses", has sprouted up in Tokyo as well as other major cities. Guest Houses come in a wide verity of styles and price ranges from private apartment to dorm style housing. Many would also come with basic furnishing so you don’t have to buy furniture.
There are also Vacation Rentals for rent which include studios, farmhouses, cottages, villas and resorts. These living places can be rented for any number of days, and come with everything you need for everyday life; from a kitchen and washing machine, to Wi-Fi and air conditioner (cool/heat).
Reikin "礼金" & Koshinryo "更新料" - History
In 1946, Japan was in ruins. The housing shortage was severe and inflation was high, so the government issued a directive to freeze rental fees. To make up for the perceived loss of income, property owners came up with supplemental fees — renewal fees, called koshinryo, and "gift money" or reikin, a "gratitude money" that new renters paid to landlords for the privilege of moving in.
Though the purpose of these fees may have been obvious at the time, they became arbitrary once owners were allowed to set rents freely again. Yet many landlords continued to demand them simply because they could, and they still can. Japanese consumers are typically not the type to voice any discontent so this archaic tradition carries on.