How To Rent An Apartment In
Tokyo & Osaka Japan
How to rent an apartment in Japan no matter in Tokyo or Osaka is no easy task. It can be so confusing in fact that many people that have received an apartment in the pass even Japanese citizens. Still do not fully understand the renting system in Japan. Here we will explain the renting system, the process and what to prepare for. Before you start your apartment hunt in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka or anywhere else in Japan.
Rental Agents & Listings
Almost all long term apartments are received by a licensed rental agent, all licensed agents have the same selection and the vast majority of agents cost the same. Listings on our website, Suumo.com or any other website are posted by realtors from the national database. This database is used by licensed rental agents for the current list of properties available in all of Tokyo, Osaka or anywhere else in the country.
Listings can be good for short terms and to understand the market for the size and location that you are looking for. However listings can also be a pain as many are no longer available but still posted. If you are looking at listings on a Japanese site like Suumo one of the largest sites in Japan. The vast majority of listings will not be available to foreigners. Most people will receive their entire selection from a licensed rental agent. Where they will find, show and receive the apartment that you are looking for.
Of course your budget and having a cosigner or not will drastically effect your selection. However there are 2 important things to understand about the market. Listings that you will find online old or new are commonly no longer available. Also the vast majority of apartments will not accept foreigners. You can read more on this from our articular on why it’s difficult for foreigners to get apartments in Japan.
Do You Need A Cosigner?
About half of apartments require a Japanese citizen to be a cosigner. The other half dose not require a cosigner however there will still be a guarantor company involved. To learn more about guarantors here in Japan take a peek at our article on guarantors.
When To Start Hunting,
It's best to have a small window of just a few days of seeing and visiting apartments that are currently available to you. Rentals can go as fast as a few days especially in Tokyo and Osaka. Most rentals can be held for 2 to 3 weeks in Tokyo and in Osaka for 2 to 4 weeks. A good time to start looking is between 5 to 3 weeks before you plan to move. However It's always good to make a plan with an agent well before hand.
What To Prepare For
Receiving as much information as you can about renting in Japan can do you a lot of good. Preparing your selection and the process with your agent well before you start can be reassuring as well. Here are three important things to prepare for.
Size & quality,
Establishing what type of apartment you want is vital. Photos usually do not do justice on size but you should establish a minimum size with a layout. You may be confused with the layout aberrations in Japan. 1LDK stands for 1 bed room with a living room, dinning room and kitchen. There are many different features with not just the room but also the building. Age and whether made by wood or concrete are the main factors for the building. For the room your main features are separate or none separate bathrooms, kitchen space and overall quality.
It's best to understand the market for the type of apartment you are looking for in the location that you want to live in. You can do this by browsing listings for the cost of rent. However to understand the total cost you can take a look at our article cost of apartments in Japan.
Convenience in location is key with real estate in Japan. To get the best results narrowing down your area of search can help your selection. Establishing a maximum commuting time to stations by train, to the station on foot, supermarkets or anything else that you want to live near. You can also Establish what train lines will work best for you or narrowing it down to a few stations or a small area like a school campus.
The process of receiving an apartment from signing the application to signing the contract and reviving your keys will take a week or longer. Most apartments especially if not a studio or 1K will not come with a refrigerator, stove and sometimes even an A/C.
Application / Contract Requirements
There are a few things that you may need before applying for a property and also for the contract singing as well.
1. Visa / Residence Card
The first thing you will need is a long term visa. If you do not have a long-term visa than you can only receive a limited number of short terms or share houses.
2. A Japanese Phone Number
You will need a Japanese phone number to apply for an apartment. If you do not have a Japanese phone number through cellular plan. There are other options to receive a Japanese number through the internet with services like Skype or the Line app.
3. Proof Of Income Or Savings
Most apartments require a copy of your pay slips from the past few months (usually 3 months). If employed and have been working for less than three months or have just started. You will be able to show the contract form your job as proof of income. The contract should show a yearly or a monthly income. Most apartments require your salary to be 3 times higher than your rent. If self-employed, receive a scholarship or any other income. You will have to show either a yearly income slip or a copy of your latest bank statement or bank book.
If you receive no income at all but have a significant amount of savings. For example showing an amount that is two or three years of the rent. Than this can be possible for a limited amount of properties.
4. An Emergency Contact
Your emergency contact should be an adult and a Japanese citizen. In some cases a permanent resident that speaks fluent Japanese can be acceptable as well. You will need to provide their full name, address, phone number and place of employment. They are not responsible financially and are only contacted if there is an emergency.
5. A Japanese Bank Account
In some cases it is required to have a Japanese bank account. This is mainly for the landlord to take the rent out of your account automatically. If you have your residence card you can make an account however you can always wait to see if you need this or not.
7. Hanko Stamp
In some cases for the contract you will be required to have a Japanese stamp or hanko. Finding stamps for sale is relatively easy but because you have a foreign name. You will have to go to a special shop. These shops specialize in making custom stamps. The cost of the Stamps will range between 2,000 to 5,000 yen. Once again this is only for some cases.