How To Rent An Apartment In Japan – A Detailed Guide For Foreigners

Have you ever dreamed of relocating to Japan? Living in Japan allows you to discover more about this beautiful country than just by traveling for a short period of time. If you want to stay in Japan for more than one month, you may consider renting an apartment rather than staying in a hotel or hostel as this is a more practical and cost-effective option. However, do you know how to rent an apartment in Japan? Don’t worry! This blog will provide you with the most comprehensive guide on the rental process. Now, let’s check it out!

Basics About Apartments In Japan

1. Apartment Layout Abbreviations

The first and foremost thing that you need to know before renting an apartment in Japan is its apartment layout abbreviations so that you can easily choose your ideal place to stay in. Japan has its own terminology to define the size, space, and conditions of a place and the terms are used for all apartments in all Japanese areas.

What Are The Meanings Of L, D And K?

L, D and K are the abbreviations for “Living”, “Dining” and “Kitchen”, which are three main parts of a Japanese apartment. All of those parts combined will create an open-plan area and you will rarely see doors between your living/dining rooms and kitchen. Where you cook is also the place you eat and play. That’s the meaning of LDK.

Common Apartment Layouts In Tokyo

AbbreviationsMeaningsNotes
1R1 RoomOne-room studio apartment usually with a compact kitchen
1K1 KitchenOne-room studio apartment usually with a compact kitchen
1DK1 Dining/KitchenApartment with a dining/kitchen area plus another room.
1LDKLiving-Dining/Kitchen

Plus 1 Room

A one-bedroom apartment with a living room separate from the kitchen/dining area.
2DKKitchen/Dining Area

Plus 2 rooms

Kitchen/dining area plus two rooms.
2LDKLiving-Kitchen/Dining Area

Plus Two rooms

A two-bedroom apartment with a living room separate from the kitchen/dining area.
3DKKitchen/Dining Area

Plus 3 rooms

Kitchen/dining area plus three rooms.
3LDKLiving-Kitchen/Dining Area

Plus 3 rooms

A three-bedroom apartment with a living room separate from the kitchen/dining area.
4DKKitchen/Dining Area

Plus 4 rooms

Kitchen/dining area plus four rooms.
1SLDKLiving-Kitchen/Dining Area

Plus 2 rooms

A one-bedroom apartment with a living room separate from the kitchen/dining area.

In this apartment, there is one more free room serving as a walk-in closet or another small bedroom.

3SLDKLiving-Kitchen/Dining Area

Plus 4 rooms

A three-bedroom apartment with a living room separate from the kitchen/dining area.

In this apartment, there is one more free room serving as a walk-in closet or another small bedroom.

2. Monthly Average Rent

In Japan, the average monthly rent, not including utilities for a one-room apartment (20-40 square meters) is between ¥50,000 and ¥70,000. In central Tokyo and popular neighborhoods in close proximity, rent for apartments of the same size usually starts from around ¥100,000. On the other hand, foreigner houses are inexpensive even in the city.

Tokyo

Wards

Average cost per month by Japanese apartment size (JPY)
1R1K-1DK1LDK-2DK2LDK-3DK3LDK-4DK
Adachi55,70059,00070,50097, 500122,300
Arakawa62,60070,10093,600120,400163,600
Bunkyo73,30080,600123,400202,900269,100
Chiyoda98,900118,800191,300326,100687,300
Chuo97,400115,400180,500231,800328,800
Edogawa56,40062,80075,100110,300138,700
Itabashi54,20064,80085,100109,600136,700
Katsushika52,60059,90069,70098,500132,500
Kita57,80068,30094,600141,000149,900
Koto68,30079,10097,100169,200195,500
Meguro80,50086,900141,800182,700310,000
Minato127,100128,800246,000468,600866,200
Nakano59,60071,300105,000136,300173,000
Nerima53,80063,90083,300104,000133,400
Ota64,30072,600101,100144,000204,100
Setagaya69,40072,000101,700161,800236,700
Shibuya97,100103,500206,000351,100529,300
Shinagawa78,80086,900138,600220,400272,700
Shinjuku77,30089,700144,000210,100268,000
Suginami59,90068,600100,400139,200181,300
Sumida65,40080,60095,200130,700182,500
Taito71,10089,500121,000170,900209,300
Toshima64,90074,000105,400158,800235,200

How To Rent An Apartment In Japan

So, how to rent an apartment in Japan? In order to rent an apartment in Japan, you only need to follow five steps below.

1. Step 1 – Find A Real Estate Agent

The first step in the Japanese apartment renting process is looking for a real estate agent, who will help to make this process go as smoothly as possible. Real estate agents act as an intermediary between you and the property owner. They will tell you about available properties that suit your budget and meet your needs and they will be also your contact point when you are ready to sign a rental contract.

how to rent an apartment in Japan

The first step in the Japanese apartment renting process is looking for a real estate agent, who will help to make this process go as smoothly as possible.

In Japan, there is a big number of real estate agents in practically every major city, so you may easily pick one that meets your demands. If you cannot communicate in Japanese, you might look for real estate agencies that provide foreigner-friendly apartment rentals.

When looking for an apartment in Japan, there are numerous options to consider. Meeting the real estate agent, you’ll be asked questions about your budget, your preferred location and room such as:

  • Type of room, room layout and size. A normal single room in Japan is between 9.9 and 16.5 square meters, excluding entrance, kitchen, bath and toilet.
  • Source of utility: you can get both gas and electricity or only electricity. Getting all-electric is safer, but the electric cost will be higher.
  • Bath and toilet (either unit or separate). Although most Japanese people prefer separate toilets and baths, the unit type can save both room and money.
  • Type of toilet ((Japanese or Western): If you’re going for the Western style, indicate whether you want a washlet or not.
  • Pets allowed or not
  • Automatic entrance gate or not
  • Availability of washing machine space
  • Wooden flooring or a tatami mat floor
  • With or without air conditioning, etc.

After you’ve specified your preferences, the real estate agency staff will look for available apartments and print out the property information, including the room layout.

2. Step 2 – Apply For An Apartment

Once you’ve made your decision, the agent will help you with the apartment application.

In order to apply for an apartment and make a rental contract in Japan, you need to provide two forms of official identification which are your passport and your visa or residence card. Both the front and back sides of your resident card, as well as the photo page of your passport and the visa page, must be provided in color.

You will also be required to submit any documents demonstrating your activities in Japan, such as:

  • Employment letter or Certificate of eligibility

These are the same documents that you used to apply for your visa. Normally, your salary information will be included in your employment letter.

  • A copy of recent pay slips (tax withholding slip) or bank statement

The agent will ask you for a copy of your most recent pay slips (usually 3 months), your yearly income slip, or a copy of your most recent bank statement or bank book if you’re unemployed to ensure that you can pay the rent each month.

how to rent an apartment in Japan

In order to apply for an apartment and make a rental contract in Japan, you need to provide your passport and your visa or residence card.

SEE MORE:

3. Step 3 – Sign A Rental Contract

After your application has been approved, you will sign a rental contract that often requires a Japanese guarantor to sign with you. A guarantor, also known as a co-signer, is someone who agrees to pay the rent or any damage charges if you are unable to or leave the country unexpectedly. When co-signing your contract, the guarantor must provide the following information:

  • Guarantor’s signature and their seal
  • Certificate of the guarantor’s seal

If you are unable to find a co-signer, be sure to inform the real estate agency. There are external companies that can act as guarantors for you, but they normally charge half a month’s rent as a fee.

After your application has been approved, you will sign a rental contract that often requires a Japanese guarantor to sign with you.

4. Step 4 – Pay Initial Costs

Once you’ve signed the contract, you will have to pay five or six times the monthly rent as an initial payment. Also, Japan is still a cash-based country, so remember to bring cash.

The following are the charges associated with your initial payment:

  • Appreciation money (non-refundable)

This is a Japanese ritual that entails paying a “payment of gratitude” to the landlord, which is usually equal to 1–2 months’ rent.

  • First month’s rent

The cost for the first month’s rent varies depending on when the contract is signed. It is usually calculated by the amount from the number of days left in the month you move in and the rent for the next month.

  • Security deposit (refundable)

This fee is often equal to 1–2 months’ rent. Unlike appreciation money, it will be refunded when you move out of the apartment. However, if any damages are discovered during the move out process, the repairing costs will be deducted from the deposit, and only the remaining amount will be given to you.

  • Fire insurance (non-refundable)

Most properties require you to purchase this insurance to cover emergencies such as fire. The cost is usually between 10,000 and 20,000 yen.

  • Brokerage fee (non-refundable)

This amount is a commission given to the real estate agent that acted as an intermediary in the contract negotiation. According to Japanese law, the brokerage fee cannot exceed one month’s rent. In some cases, it is equal to half a month’s rent or not charged at all.

  • Guarantor company usage fee

As mentioned above, if you don’t have a guarantor in Japan, you will need to contact a guarantor company and pay for its usage fee as your guarantor.

how to rent an apartment in Japan

Once you’ve signed the contract, you will have to pay five or six times the monthly rent as an initial payment.

5. Step 5 – Move In

After you’re done with the initial payment, you will get the keys to your new apartment. You can contact a moving company so that it can help you relocate.

In most cases, utilities such as electricity, gas, water, and telephone in a new apartment are disconnected. Therefore, when you first move in, remember to phone the utility companies to get them connected and set up a payment plan for those companies.

In addition, after you move in, don’t forget to register your new address with your local ward office as this is compulsory for all residents. Renting an apartment is a legal lease agreement, so you can apply for a visa or open a bank account in Japan using your new address.

After you’re done with the initial payment, you will get the keys to your new apartment.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to rent an apartment in Japan, right? The apartment renting process in Japan will not be tricky if you follow the steps mentioned in the blog. Keep following Question Japan for more useful guides on housing in Japan!

About Yuu Sato

Yuu Hiasa has been working in hospitality industry since 2003. In the past, he used to work as a tour guide and now he is running his business of supplying comfortable accommodations in Japan. Thanks to this experience and his passion for writing blog, the articles by him provides awesome tips and things to do when you are traveling in the country of cherry blossoms.