Renting guide

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Procedures to rent housing in Japan

(Updated on April 14, 2016)

Process flow for renting Japanese housing

Houses and apartments in Japan are usually rented through real estate agents rather than directly from lessors. Non-Japanese often face difficulties in finding a suitable house for various reasons such as not understanding how to search for a house to rent, being refused because they are non-Japanese, and lacking the ability to communicate in Japanese. The best solution for such cases is to select agents who can totally support property seekers from overseas in a comprehensive manner, covering every step from property searching to concluding agreements, and even in dealing with issues after moving in. The standard process flow to rent a room in Japan is as follows: 
(1) Make inquiries to an agent

You should give as many details as possible about your desires for the level of rent, surrounding area, floor plan, room size, nearest station, distance to the station, and so forth, when making contact with the agent. If you have any other desired conditions, such as being allowed to keep a pet or to play a musical instrument, notify the agent. 


(2) Prepare required documents

To apply for a lease agreement, a resident card, proof of earned income, and employment contract and other documents that can prove your identity, earned income amount and occupation are required. You are advised to make preparations in advance, for example, by referring to your employer. In addition, since you will be required to have an emergency contact person and a joint guarantor with Japanese nationality or Japanese communication ability, you should look for such person beforehand. If you cannot find a joint guarantor, to enter into a contract with a rent guarantor company is another option. For such cases, identification documents and proof of earned income will also be required. 

 →List of required documents.

(3) Preview the property

When you find a property that suits you from among the properties the agent introduced to you, the agent will actually visit the property. There you can check not only the interior furnishings and facilities but also the surrounding environment of such property.


(4) Apply for renting

As properties that can be rented by non-Japanese are small in number, properties with many advantages can easily become unavailable in a short time. Early applications are recommended when you find a property that suits you. For application, along with the application form, you will submit the required documents for renting, prepared in advance.


(5) Tenant screening

Prior to the agreement, tenant screening will be carried out by a guarantor company or the lessor to verify whether you are eligible to rent the specific property. Your income level, visa expiration date, and so forth, will be screened. Additionally, screening will also be conducted to verify whether your Japanese language proficiency is sufficient for everyday conversation, so that you can smoothly solve specific issues in the case that some kind of problem occurs after moving in.


(6) Conclude the lease agreement

If you pass the screening, you will proceed with the lease agreement procedures. The lease agreement will be concluded at the office of the real estate agent. Agreement papers are usually written in Japanese. Brokerage fees and initial costs need to be paid when the agreement is concluded.


(7) Move in

Now you will receive the keys of the room and move in. You will need to make arrangements to start receiving services including gas, electricity, water, and the Internet. Also, you should submit a moving-in notification at the ward or city office. When moving in, the present condition of the accommodation is checked for stains and scratches on the walls and floors, facilities, and water supply and discharge. (This is called a “confirmation of current condition “). If the air conditioner is broken, hot water doesn’t come out, or any other problem comes up, get in touch with the management company. The status check will provide reference material for restoring the room to the original state when moving out from said property. 


Required documents for renting

When applying for renting


If you are an employed worker If you are a student
✔ Copy of your resident card ✔ Student card or admission permit
✔ Copy of your passport
✔ Proof of your ability to pay the rent


Certificate of employment (such as an employment contract that proves your employer, period of employment, and monthly or annual salary)

Earned income proof (Income tax withholding slip or final return form)

✔ Proof of your ability to pay the rent


Copy of balance statement of your bank account

✔ Information of your emergency contact person (name, birth date, address, telephone number, name, address and telephone number of workplace, relationship with you, monthly or annual salary, and so forth)
✔ (If possible) information on the joint guarantor (name, birth date, address, telephone number, name, address and telephone number of workplace, relationship with you, monthly or annual salary, and so forth)
✔ (If you have a roommate) copy of his/her identification document


*If the emergency contact person and joint guarantor are Japanese, it tends to be easier to pass the screening.

When applying for a guarantee contract


✔ Identification documents (same with documents for application to rent)

✔ Information of emergency contact person (name, birth date, address, telephone number, name, address and telephone number of workplace, relationship with you, monthly or annual salary, and so forth)



*A Guarantor company is mostly used when a joint guarantor is not available, but in some cases, the guarantor company itself also needs a joint guarantor.

*If the emergency contact person is Japanese, it tends to be easier to pass the screening.


When signing the lease agreement


✔ Original copy of certificate of residence (it usually can be obtained only on weekdays, so early preparation is advised) 

✔ Joint guarantor

Registered seal
✔ Certificate of registered seal
✔ Proof of earned income (Income tax withholdings slip of final return from, and so forth) 



Additional documents other than the above can be required, depending on the property. 



Other things you may be required to prepare


  • Bank account in Japan

Rent payments are generally made by automatic withdrawal. You should open a bank account in Japan in advance.

Procedures: Although it depends on the bank, standard required documents are your identification documents, proof of your address, your seal or sign, and a contactable phone number. You can either visit the bank with the required documents or carry out online procedures to open an account. 

  • Seal (personal unregistered seal)
For signing the agreement, a written signature is accepted in some cases but a seal is required in others. As seals are used in many occasions in Japan, such as in opening a bank account, you are advised to prepare your own seal. 
  • Mobile phone

You will be asked to possess a mobile phone as a means for the lessor to directly contact the lessee in the event of emergency situations. You should sign an agreement for a mobile phone as early as possible.

Procedures: Although depending on the mobile carrier, standard required documents are your identification documents, and requirements for monthly payment procedures (such as a credit card or bankbook and cash card, and so forth.) Bring the required documents with you to the mobile carrier shop. 



Matters to take note of when looking for houses to rent in Japan



Japan still only has a small number of properties that can be rented to non-Japanese. Properties that meet all of your desired conditions do not necessarily exist and therefore deciding your priorities beforehand will help in searching for a room of your preference.



Initial costs include the shikikin (deposit)reikin (key money), contract money for the guarantor company, insurance premium, rent for the month of agreement and the following month, and brokerage fee. These are normally paid in a lump sum upon conclusion of agreement by bank transfer or by cash. When the bank transfer needs to be made from an account overseas to one in Japan, it might take several days to be completed, so it would be better to deposit the amount into your account in Japan beforehand.



One to two weeks will be required for the process from the application to screening and conclusion of agreement. A schedule with sufficient time to look for a property is recommended, taking into account the time to be spent for searching and previewing properties.



February and March are the busy months when new students, freshmen, and transferees are all looking for a new room. Moving schedules tend to be tight and moving costs can be expensive in many cases. If you are not in a hurry, it might be better for you to avoid this season to look for a new room in Japan.






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