Home sweet home, Tokyo
How To Rent In Tokyo

Simply put, all real estate agencies access the same national databases. With the exception of exclusive listings for a few luxury apartments, you can get the same apartment information from any agency.

That being said, everyone needs to know that you have only 1 chance to apply to an apartment. Once your application is processed by the property manager (not the real estate agency), and if by chance, you are rejected, you can not ask another agency to reapply to the same apartment.

This is where our team at Apts.jp is at your service -- when we apply on your behalf, we build the strongest case for the property manager to accept you.
We work with our clients on a personal level to find them lifestyle-enhancing apartments in Tokyo!

We've helped many of our clients with all of the following- part of our full-service package that's standard for all clients- but it's definitely good to know what is required for moving in and out of an apartment.

Mobile Phone

For mobile phones, you can go to any of the major carriers (NTT Docomo, AU Mobile, Softbank Mobile), but if you have your residence card and a credit card, IIJmio has the best deals. For IIJmio, you can go to a BIC Camera and register there, or if you can read Japanese, you can register online.

 

Inkan ("signature seal/stamp")

If you plan to stay 2 years in Japan, definitely buy an inkan, because having one will make your life a lot easier. Figure out how you want your last name spelled (hiragana, katakana, or Roman alphabet). Usually, it only costs 3-4,000 JPY to make, but it will depend on how many letters there are in your name. It normally takes 4 hours to make, but for an extra fee, some places like Hanko21, will make it immediately.

If you stay more than 2 years, buy 3 inkans. First one for stamping non-contract documents, 2nd one for bank accounts, 3rd for contracts (this one needs to be registered at your local ward office and once registered, it'll be your official seal "jitsuin".

 

Bank Account

Opening an account at Mitsui Sumitomo Bank, Mizuho Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Bank, or Japan Postal Yucho bank is best. All business transactions revolve around those 4 main institutions, but to apply, you need an inkan "signature seal/stamp", residence card with registered address, and passport. The registration is all in Japanese, so having a friend to help translate will come in handy, or just ask us :)

Other options with English registration are Prestia (SMBC Trust Bank) and Shinsei Bank.

One thing you should make sure with your bank (in your country of origin) - and prior to your arrive in Japan - is to release the transfer limit for international fund transfers. Initial costs are pretty hefty.

 

Register new address at the local ward office

If you’re moving from one ward to another, you must first go to your current ward office and file a moving-out notification. Once you receive the notification, you must bring it to the local ward office of your new address, submit the notification, and then register your residency. For more information on municipal offices (ward/city/town/village) in Tokyo, please go to the following link:

https://www.tokyo-icc.jp/guide_eng/gov/01.html

 

   Electricity

For opening / closing your account, submit an application at the following link:

https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/customer/online/online01-e.html

 

   Gas

For opening / closing your account, call the Customer Center in Japan:

http://www.tokyo-gas.co.jp/utility/office_e.html

 

   Water

For opening / closing your account, submit an application at the following link:

http://www.waterworks.metro.tokyo.jp/eng/charge/otodoke.html

 

   Mailing Address (Japan Post)

Please go to your local post office to change your mailing address. For more information:

http://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/tenkyo/index_en.html

 

Step 1: Search Properties or Contact Us

Contact us for any inquiries- we will help you find a great home!

We will also discuss what kind of support you would like from our full care-package service (https://apts.jp/services).

 

Step 2: Schedule Apartment Tour

Let us know your schedule and we will set up apartment viewings.

 

Step 3: Apply to Apartment

In order to apply to an apartment, the following items required to submit applications may take time to prepare, so we recommend that you ready them as soon as possible (ideally, you would have these prepared before applying to apartments to expedite the application process):

  • Personal ID Photocopy (Residence Card, Japanese Driver’s License, Passport Photocopy)
  • Letter of Employment (在職証明書)
  • Income Statement Photocopy (if your Letter of Employment does not state your salary)
  • Emergency Contact (needs to be fluent in Japanese)

 

Other requirements that you may need to prepare:

  • Proof of Residence (住民票 jyuminhyo)
  • Guarantor/Co-signer (needs to be employed and fluent in Japanese; in some cases, must be Japanese)
  • Health Insurance Card Photocopy

 

Step 4: Contract

If your application is approved, you can move on to the final contract process. If you can't read Japanese, we will review the terms and conditions of the contract together. You will need an inkan for the signing- please ask your agent whether it has to be a registered seal. Also, at this time, you will need to have opened a Japanese bank account to pay the initial move-in costs.

 

Step 5: Move-in

Home, Sweet Home!

 

Common Area Usage

Don’t leave personal items in the building’s common areas, such as building entrance, hallways, terraces, and lounges. Also, placing personal and business advertisements are prohibited within building common areas.

 

Drains

Do not pour cooking oil or any pipe cleaning agents down the drain.

 

Noise Levels

Be mindful of the noise levels coming from your apartment. Repeat offenders may have their contract terminated.

 

Extended Vacation

Notify the building management if you leave your apartment for more than a month.

 

No Outdoor Grilling

Barbeque within building premises is usually prohibited, unless you have written consent from the owner.

 

Garbage

Each of Tokyo’s wards have different garbage pick-up dates. For most areas, you must separate your trash- burnable, non-burnable, and recyclable; ask your building manager for details.

 

Intended Use

Do not use the apartment for purposes not stated in the contract.

(e.g. sub-leasing, Airbnb, etc.)

 

Apartment Damages

Prior to vacating the apartment, the tenant is responsible for repairing any non-natural wear and tear damages.

 

Remodeling the Apartment

Remodeling or any alteration of the apartment without written consent from the owner may result in the immediate termination of your contract, as well as fees for reverting the alterations.

 

Contract Early-Termination and Fees

The contract will state how many months prior you need to notify the property manager/owner before your move-out date. The contract period is usually 2 years and if you move out within the first year, there may be an early-termination fee.

You will have no problem applying for an apartment with a monthly income 3 times that of the rent. For example, if the total monthly rent is 120,000 JPY, you would be in a great position with a monthly income of around 360,000 JPY (4,320,000 JPY annually).

 

If your income is below 3 times that of the rent, it becomes very difficult to get approved for an apartment.

Two factors affect how landlords and property managers set up the screening process.

First, Japan does not have a credit score to cross reference your eligibility to rent. Second, Japan real estate regulations make it next to impossible for landlords to evict tenants if the contract is a standard lease (as opposed to fixed-term lease); and most properties on the market are standard leases. To mitigate risk for landlords, property managers may ask many personal questions that could seem irrelevant to the rental process

What to expect?

Each landlord / property management company will have different criteria, but overall, we've found that submitting financial statements or letter of employment that shows a stable source of income is the biggest factor for assessing your eligibility. If your monthly salary is not 3 times the rent, the likelihood of passing screening is very low. If you don't have financial statements, your letter of employment must state your job description, job title, and monthly or annual salary. (If you are a business owner, freelancer, or a student, the required documents are different. Please contact us and we will find the best solution for your circumstance.)

Another big factor is your Japanese proficiency. It has become more mandatory that tenants sign up to a guarantor company, so expect a call from them inquiring about your background once your application has been submitted. (Some are very professional and polite; others, very rude and unfriendly. In either case, keep your composure.) If the apartment you choose has this Japanese proficiency requirement, the guarantor company will assess your level when they call you.

Guarantor / PM phone call: Questions to expect

Any information you provided to fill in an application form will be confirmed during the call.

Eg.

  • Is your date of birth 0000-00-00?
  • Do you work at xyz company?
  • When do you start work?
  • etc.

If you pass the guarantor company's screening process, the landlord will review your application and will have the final say.

Apts.jp takes no part in this screening process, but we will prepare your case so that you will have the best chance of being approved.

GENERAL FAQ

Apts.jp compares the rent for each property with other properties of similar features in the local area. To give you a better understanding of the market price, we have categorized the rent per square meter into 3 different fields.

Green
Less than ¥3,499 / m2

Below average rent (Great Deal!)

 

Blue
Between ¥3,500~¥4,499 / m2

Average rent

 

Purple
Above ¥4,500 / m2

Above average rent

 

 

Source: Tokyo Kantei

※ Price per square meter adjusted to represent market rent prices of serviced areas.

Measurements

Some of our listed apartment floor plans show area size in "J" (Jo or 帖). 1J is approx. 1.653 square meters (17.79 sq. ft.).

(Tokyo's Real Estate Association regulates 1J to be no less than 1.62 sq. meters.)

 

Layout Terms

ワンルーム (one room) is a studio apartment where the kitchen and bedroom are not separated.

K = Kitchen

S = Service/Study room is relatively smaller than the bedroom, but can comfortably accommodate a desk and bookshelf to be used as a study room, or a single bed (depending on the size of the room) for guests staying overnight.

DK = Dining room + Kitchen

LDK = Living room + Dining room + Kitchen

The number before a combination of the above letters refers to the number of bedrooms in the apartment. For example, 2DK is a 2 bedroom apartment with a dining area and kitchen; 1SLDK is a 1 bedroom apartment with a service room, living room, dining room, and kitchen.

Please note that most "LDK" apartments below 70 square meters (approx. 753 sq. ft.) will combine the living room, dining room, and kitchen into one area. For this reason, at Apts.jp, we do not use this system because some "LDK" apartments mislead clients regarding the size of the living and dining rooms.

Another item to note is the bathroom. Please make sure that you are comfortable with the layout when you visit the apartment. Some apartments that separate the bathroom and toilet. There are cases where the toilet room will not have a conventional sink for washing hands (some Japanese toilets have a faucet above the toilet tank for that purpose, which may be discomforting to some people).

 

We primarily service within the central Tokyo wards. Let us know where you would like to relocate to, and we'll send you a list of apartments that suits your lifestyle.

 

Central Tokyo Wards:

  • Chiyoda-ku
  • Chuo-ku
  • Setagaya-ku
  • Shibuya-ku
  • Shinjuku-ku
  • Shinagawa-ku
  • Toshima-ku
 

Yes. It is easy to change or cancel a scheduled tour. Just contact us.

No. Some landlords or property managers prohibit their properties from being listed online. Although we cannot post these properties on our site, we can give you information about them. Please contact us with your specific apartment requirements, and we can search through the non-listed properties for you.

LEASING PROCESS

The initial cost consists of the following fees: advance rent, security deposit, key money, guarantor fee, lock replacement, fire insurance, cleaning, document processing, and agency fees. However, some costs are not applicable, and some are negotiable.

Initial cost calculations shown on our website are the best estimates we can give, based on all available information provided by the owner and property managers. Our initial cost calculations are a great guide for preparing for the upfront payments you'll have to make on the contract signing date, but the final initial cost may vary from our best estimates.

Unfortunately, Japan has lax discrimination laws, and there are landlords who refuse foreign tenants. This is mainly because of the language barrier. If you are not fluent in Japanese, the landlord will be very reluctant to lease you their apartment.

At Apts.jp, we work with landlords and property managers to find solutions for such problems so that you can move into an apartment that you can call "home".

 

Individual contract is recommended for tenants intending to stay in one location for more than 2 years. The lessee can renew the contract indefinitely, but the lessee may incur renewal fees. Legally, the lessor cannot force you to move out unless there are extenuating circumstances; such as, in cases where the lessee breaches the contract's terms and conditions.

 

Although this contract favors the lessee to stay at the apartment, the lessor can charge a renewal fee and renegotiate rent prices, by a justifiable percent, at the end of the contract. It's always good to check- during the application process- what fees you will incur when renewing the contract.

Approximately 2 weeks.

Assuming that all necessary requirements have been submitted, it will usually take up to 1 week for the application process and another week for the contract. Please note that if the landlord or property manager asks for more documents, the process may take longer.

Fixed-term contract is recommended for tenants whom may move within 2 years or the leasing period stated on the contract. This contract favors the landlord because he or she is not legally obligated to continue leasing the apartment to the tenant after the contract ends. The landlord or lessor may write a new contract to the lessee with new terms and conditions if the lessee wishes to stay.

 

In the case where the lessee terminates the contract, the lessee must notify the lessor at least 2 to 6 months (it will be stated on the contract) prior to vacating. Penalty fees associated with early termination will also be stated in the contract.

Yes. Everything can be negotiated.

However, please note that negotiations are difficult if the listing is a popular property or if you are looking to move during a busy season (spring and fall seasons). Also, please keep in mind that although applications to apartments are on a first-come-first-serve basis, landlords may choose the second applicant if they provide a better offer. Please consult with us on how best to approach a deal.

List of common negotiable items:

  • Rent (management fee excluded)
  • Security Deposit
  • Key Money
  • Advance Rent
  • Guarantor Fee
  • Contract Renewal Fee
  • Cleaning Fee

This list is just to name a few. Other things that can be negotiated are the move-in date, contract period, and more.

Yes.  Applications are non-binding, so there are no risks for cancelling. Please note that once your application has been approved by the property manager, we can only hold it for 3 to 5 days before having to return a response to the property manager.

LEASING TERMS

The security deposit is included in the initial cost and covers for any damage to the property during the lease period. It will also be used for any delinquent rent payment or if you terminate the contract with penalty conditions. In addition to repair costs for damages- excluding natural wear-and-tear- the cleaning fee may also be deducted from your security deposit; remaining amount will be refunded to you upon vacating the apartment.

We will explain the terms of the security deposit with you, prior to signing the contract.

The residence service fee is a charge from the building management company for your 24-hour hotline to handle any apartment related incidents, such as clogged toilets, leaking water pipes, etc. Please remember to ask your agent the full extent/details of this service.

Management fee (Common-area Management Fee), included in the monthly rent, is a payment to the building management company for the upkeep of the building, building amenities, and common areas.

The lock replacement fee is a non-refundable fee charged by the landlord to replace the apartment's front door lock, for your security.

Key money is a payment made to the landlord as gratitude for accepting your application. Although this obsolete post-war custom persists, there has been an increase of landlords whom disregard this fee. Please note that this money is considered a "gift" to the landlord and is non-refundable.

Guarantor or co-signer fee, included in the initial cost, is usually required for apartment rentals in Japan. This payment acts as an insurance policy for the landlord, where the guarantor is accountable for any financial obligations if the lessee is delinquent on payment.

 

Who can I have as a guarantor?

The guarantor (which excludes tenants of the same apartment unit) may be a member of your family, relatives, friends, or place of employment.

The guarantor is required to:

  • reside in Tokyo (or be within reasonable distance to co-sign the contract);
  • be employed;
  • be fluent in Japanese.
 

Additionally, he or she may be required to provide documents similar to the items required in your application process. The guarantor fee is usually 1 to 2 months' rent, but may vary depending on the contract. If you do not have a guarantor, we can help you apply to a third-party guarantor company.

 

Guarantor Company

The roll of a guarantor company is to cover for any financial obligations if the lessee is not able to make payment. They are also responsible for screening your application, during which, you may get a call from them confirming your personal information. In most cases, enrolling in a guarantor company negates the need for a personal guarantor. However, smaller property management companies or landlords may ask for both, depending on your place of employment. In recent years, there as been a trend where property management companies require you to enroll in a guarantor company to complete an application, regardless of whether you have a personal guarantor.

 

Fire Insurance is the literal translation for renters insurance "火災保険".

 

The renters insurance will cover damages and liabilities such as fire, water leaks, theft, personal property, earthquakes, and floods. Depending on the coverage, the average cost is usually 20,000 JPY per month with a 1- or 2-year annual fee.

 

The document process fee is a charge from the property management company to handle your application.

At Apts.jp, we charge a standard 1 month's rent (plus tax) as commission fee, and that includes our on-going support during the entirety of your lease. The full extent of our services is included our agency fee.

Our service includes:

  • finding you an apartment that suits your lifestyle
  • taking care of any problems you may have during your leasing process
  • negotiating on your behalf
  • assists with address registration at ward offices
  • setting up bank accounts, mobile phone, internet, and utilities
  • after moving-in, if you have any issues with your apartment, we'll sort it out!

Please check out Our Services page for more details.

Advance rent is a payment to the landlord at the beginning of the lease period; usually included in the initial cost. This payment covers the rent for the first month. If the move-in date is not on the first day of the month, lessee also pays per diem rate (daily rate for the apartment).

 

For example, if your lease begins on the 26th of July, your advance rent fee will be August's rent + rent for the remaining days in July.