Frequently Asked Questions

Questions on moving to Japan and finding the right apartment?
We have you covered in our FAQ.

How to Rent in Tokyo

Are there any differences between real estate agencies 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!

What you need to do prior to moving into an apartment 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

 

What are the steps?

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!

 

Some things tenants should know

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.

 

Some standard contract terms & conditions

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.

How much should I budget for rent?

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.

What is the screening process / background check?

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.

More questions?

Finding an apartment in Japan can be overwhelming. Tell us your needs, and our team will help you find the best apartment for you.

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