How to Rent an Apartment in Japan : 6 Essential Steps You Need To Know

Apartment Rental Process

Renting in Japan is a journey with several checkpoints. Once you've done a bit of legwork, you can start engaging with agents for the next phase. Once these agents understand your needs, they'll present you with suitable properties and help arrange viewings.

Setting Your Criteria

Embarking on your apartment search, the first step is to establish your basic criteria. It's wise to begin with your budget, as this helps narrow down your options in terms of area and layout. Aim to allocate around 30% of your salary to rent. Here's a glimpse of average rent prices in popular areas:

After determining your budget, consider the location carefully. Factors like proximity to work, transportation, and amenities matter. Falling in love with both your home and neighborhood is key. Once your basic criteria are set, you can delve into specifics like apartment type, pet-friendliness, and sunlight exposure. While having more criteria may narrow down options, it can also expedite your search. Ensure your basic criteria are in place before reaching out to an agent, streamlining the process from the get-go.

Choosing an Agent

With your criteria confirmed, it's time to meet the agent. These professionals will help source properties based on your requirements. Expect interviews and meetings to discuss your needs, preferences, and lifestyle. Providing insights into your work and personal life will help agents pinpoint suitable areas and apartments. Once armed with this information, they'll curate a list of options and schedule viewings, even offering virtual tours if you're not yet in Japan.

Agents serve as intermediaries between you and landlords, facilitating negotiations and providing detailed information on landlord requirements and rules. Once you've made your choice, agents will submit your documents for the next steps.

Tenant Screening

Before progressing further, landlords or property management companies will review your application. Every owner has their own criteria for this process. Essential documents include basic information like nationality, age, and visa status, along with proof of income. This is a critical step, as landlords want assurance that tenants can meet their financial obligations. Factors considered include income stability, profession, and personality. While full-time employees generally face fewer hurdles, part-time workers and freelancers may encounter more scrutiny. Freelancers, especially those in their first year, may need to provide additional documentation, such as proof of savings. Similarly, business owners may be required to submit business and personal documents, with a focus on business legitimacy and profitability. Typically, a rent-to-income ratio of 20% to 25% is considered appropriate.

Here's a rundown of the documents required:

  • Resident Record: Include everyone residing with you, each with a residence card showing their current address, obtainable from your local ward office.
  • Proof of Identity: Passport or residence card.
  • Proof of Income: For employees, provide withholding tax; for self-employed individuals and freelancers, provide the final tax return or the most recent tax certificate.

Sometimes, tenants may need to interview with property management. These interviews, conducted in English or Japanese, aim to ensure tenants meet the requirements. Attempting to cohabit with a friend can present challenges, as landlords fear disturbances to other tenants.

Initial Payments

After you’ve passed the screening test, you will need to pay the initial fees In Japan, it’s common to pay initial fees before. These typically include advance rent, deposit, key money, agent fees, guarantor fees, and fire insurance (if obtained through the agency). Automatic monthly payments can be set up using your card. You need to pay around four times of your rent fee for the initial fees.

Contract Signing

If you pass the screening, it's time to review and sign the contract. Agents will walk you through the contract's contents, ensuring you understand everything before signing.

The rental contract specifies the terms and conditions for renewal, outlines the amounts and payment rules for rental fees and other management fees/common expenses, details the initial cost amount and payment terms including security deposit and key money, establishes rules for living in the property, and delineates conditions for canceling the rental contract.

Pay close attention to clauses like the ‘Special Agreement', which outlines terms regarding moving out and other important conditions. Understanding these details will prevent future issues. If any problems arise, contact the property management company, as written in the contract. The standard contract term is two years, with penalties for early termination.

Moving In

With payments settled, the place is officially yours. You'll typically receive the keys on your move-in day. Don't forget to arrange utilities like gas, electricity, and internet. Most of the time, you'll need to handle this yourself. Ensure you notify the power company in advance to avoid any delays in service activation. The property will also undergo an inspection to ensure everything is in working order. Our agents will help you set up your utilities so you don’t need to worry.

Read More