AN INTRODUCTION TO RENTING APARTMENTS
Finding the right apartment is very important when relocating, especially when moving overseas. Finding that perfect place in a mega-city like Tokyo can seem overwhelming, so be prepared to spend some time house-hunting to get a good idea of the kind of apartments available. Typically, you will probably need to see about 10 – 20 properties before finally making a decision. However, whether you are coming to Tokyo on an expat package with a housing budget or otherwise there will be an apartment to meet your needs.
TYPICAL JAPANESE APARTMENTS
Typical Japanese style apartments are generally under ¥350,000/ month and have special conditions:
- do not come with any appliances
- require 2-4 months security deposit, and 2 months key money
- have a contract renewal fee payable every 2 years
Expat apartments are generally over ¥350,000/month and have special conditions:
- come with all major appliances – washer, dryer, dishwasher, phone and phone-line, and refrigerator
- require 4-6 months security deposit but no key money
Once you have found your new apartment or house you will need to make the necessary contractual arrangements before moving in. Before signing it you should also familiarize yourself with some of the rental regulations and customs in Japan. Understanding some of the differences and planning ahead will help to prevent any problems that may arise in the future regarding your new home or apartment.
There is a standard agents commission of one month’s rent plus 5% tax.
SECURITY DEPOSIT (Shikikin: 敷金)
Landlords will often request a security deposit of 4 – 6 months rent in advance. When you move out or at the end of the lease, the cost of cleaning or repairs will be deducted from this security deposit.
KEY MONEY (Reikin: 礼金)
In the case of a typical Japanese style apartment key money is usually required. Key money a non-refundable up-front payment to the landlord for letting you rent the property. It is usually the equivalent of two months rent but can sometimes be negotiated, and in the case of the more expensive properties key money is not usually requested. Expat properties will not require key money. In some cases, you may be able to pay the key money in monthly payments spread out over 2 years.
- for example, if the rent is ¥120,000/ month and the key money is ¥240,000 you would pay ¥130,000/ month.
MONTHLY MAINTENANCE FEE (Kanrihi: 管理費)
In some typical Japanese style apartments a monthly building maintenance fee will be added to the rent. In the case of expat apartments maintenance fees are almost always included in the monthly rent.
RENEWAL FEE (Koushinryou: 更新料)
In the case of typical Japanese apartments (usually under ¥350,000 – ¥400,000/ month), a renewal fee is often charged at the at the end of the contract, usually two years, to renew the contract. This renewal fee is typically equal to 1 months rent and is paid to the building owner.
It is important to know that you cannot own a car in Tokyo without having a parking space first. Almost all apartment buildings or homes offer parking spaces for tenants but if you need parking it is still important to check if the property you are interested in has parking available.
In some cases the cost of a parking space is not included in the monthly rent. Parking spaces usually cost from ¥40,000 – ¥70,000/ month depending on the building and area.
Some landlords will not allow you to keep pets. If you own or are planning to keep a pet, it is important to inform your real-estate agent and request to see apartments or houses whose owners will allow pets. In some cases a landlord may allow cats but not dogs, (or vice versa), or small dogs but not big dogs.