common misconceptions about renting an apartment in Tokyo

4 Common Misconceptions About Renting A Tokyo Apartment

Finding an apartment in any foreign country can be overwhelming, with many things being unknown. We help expats find their awesome Tokyo homes, and we hear a lot of inaccurate rumors and ideas about renting an apartment in Tokyo.

In this article, we are going to bust 4 of the common myths that we deal with, doing apartment rentals in Tokyo.


Misconception #1:
“I have heard that it’s very difficult as a foreigner to get an apartment in Tokyo.”

β˜… Bust!: If you have a proper Visa and a proper Job, you should be able to find an apartment, without much issue at all (especially if you use us! πŸ™‚ ).

You might have heard that non-Japanese get rejected for apartments by being “a foreigner” in Japan. Yes, there are fewer options for expats than what is possible for the vast population of Japanese-nationals in Tokyo. But the good news is, many property managers are happy to have you, and if you work with us, we can find apartments from such property managers, that work for your situation.

Apartments run by larger property managers have a very solid system in place. The screening process is the same for everyone. Check out our other blog on Why Tokyo Expat Rentals Can Be More Expensive for more on this topic.

Your most significant advantage will be using a real estate agency who knows what they’re doing! Like us! πŸ™‚

We’ve had clients who’ve tried local Japanese agencies that happen to have an English-speaking agent, but they often mess up applications, as they actually DON’T KNOW which property managers work for non-Japanese (because most of their experience is with Japanese-nationals). They literally just shoot in the dark and “see what happens”, which can result in multiple rejections.

Getting expats into great rentals- whether apartment or house- is our bread and butter! We are 100% expat focused.

We know which apartments are expat friendly, and we pre-screen every apartment we show clients, to give the highest probability of passing screening. We break down language barriers, explain contract terms in English, do all paperwork- you name it! We also support you with your needs during move-in, setup utilities, explain how all housing amenities work, handle lease length support, and much more.

We will be your biggest support when finding an apartment in Tokyo.

So is it difficult for an expat to find an apartment in Tokyo?

Not for you- it shouldn’t be, especially if your criteria is realistic.

Handling the difficulty of the Tokyo rental industry is OUR job. πŸ™‚


Misconception #2:
“Fully-furnished short-term apartments are more affordable than standard long-term apartments.”

β˜… Bust!: Over time, long-term apartments are much cheaper than short-term!

The upfront cost of a furnished apartment seems much more appealing since there is often no deposit, no key money, and no agency fee. -Often just a cleaning fee with a month or two of rent payment in advance.

For a long-term rental, you are generally looking at 4-6 months’ rent, of upfront fees.

Many people see long-term rental upfront fees and immediately think furnished apartments are the way to go.

The truth is, furnished apartments are significantly above market price- typically 20%-30% more, compared to a typical rental with the same size in the same area. Plus, the utility fees of short-term rentals are a flat rate, being up to double (or more!), compared to paying utilities in your name.

Over a few years, you will actually end up paying much more for a short-term, monthly type rental.

That being said, short-term fully-furnished rentals are actually great if you plan to stay only 3-6 months in Japan; but not if you’re planning to stay for more than 1 year, even if the cost of entry is low.

For long-term rentals, you will have more options as far as style, size, and locations are concerned. Japan has cost-friendly interior/furniture stores such as NITORI/γƒ‹γƒˆγƒͺ and IKEA, and there are many used furniture shops and even Facebook selling groups where you can find some steals on barely used furniture, such as Tokyo Sayonara Sales.

Check out our blog on Short-Term Rental vs Long-Term Rental if you are still undecided on which is best for you.

β–Ά CLICK HERE to check out some of our short-term/monthly listings.


Misconception #3:
“Different agencies can only show me their managed properties.”

β˜… Bust!: All real estate agencies in Tokyo dealing with long-term rentals, have ACCESS TO THE SAME NATIONAL DATABASES!

That’s right. Even though hooking up expats with Tokyo apartment rentals is our bread and butter, we actually use the whole of the Japanese national databases to search and find apartments. We have access to most every apartment rental possible in Tokyo (we only can’t touch exclusive deals, which are quite rare).

This DOES NOT mean to use just any agency, though, as in Tokyo, if you fail screening for several apartment applications, it can actually screw up your chances for renting an apartment, big time.

These rejections go on record at guarantor companies (these companies are the ones that are liable for paying rent if tenant doesn’t, but they also do much of the screening process).

This is why it is VERY IMPORTANT that you pick an agency that will represent you well. If your application is denied for an apartment- especially if an agency screws up your application, due to lack of expat experience- you cannot come to us later to apply for that same unit, as you’ll get rejected immediately, due to having your prior rejection on record.

Let us help you from the beginning, and let us get you into an apartment as efficiently as possible!


Misconception #4:
“2 year apartment contracts are so binding in Tokyo. I don’t know where I will be in 2 years!”

β˜… Bust!: You can usually end your rental contract after 1 year, without a penalty fee!


A standard long-term contract for an apartment in Tokyo, is 2 years, with renewal possible. For most of us expats, we are accustomed to the fact that you must stay in your place until the lease is up.

That rule doesn’t apply here in Tokyo.

If you want to leave before your contract ends, you just have to give appropriate advanced notice, which is usually 1 or 2 months. YOU DO NOT NEED TO PAY the remaining months’ rent fees, if you move out early!

The only cases where you will have to pay a penalty for moving out early, is if you either don’t give sufficient notice of move out, or you leave before one year (365 days or sooner). During contract signing, we make all of such terms very clear for you, so there will be no doubt.

Apartment contracts in Tokyo are more like a timeline– After two years, if you enjoy your place, you can request to stay (this renewal fee is generally 1 month’s rent). If you want to leave after 1 year, you can usually leave with no penalty, by giving sufficient notice of move out.

So if you plan on living in Tokyo for at least a year, long-term rentals is usually the way to go. If you are concerned with “how to move out”, please know that our support at is lease length, so we’ll be there for your move-in, and we’ll be there for your move-out. πŸ™‚

BONUS!!! Here’s a straight-talk, to the point video of agents Thibaut and Jason, discussing some of the myths (3 in this vid).

We hope these myth-busting questions have helped you understand a little more about what it’s like to rent an apartment in Tokyo!

The whole apartment rental system may be quite different from back home, but with our help, we will make the process as smooth as possible for you. πŸ™‚

β–Ά Start your search now on!

β–Ά Click here to let us do the searching for you and get you into someplace great~