Renting in Japan Made Easy

June 28th, 2010By Category: Uncategorized

Coming to Japan involves cutting the cord from your home country (or the last country you set roots in) and re root here in Japan, for many, this involves finding a place to live in a rental situation. However Japan does have a reputation for not being very foreigner friendly when it comes to servicing the foreign community. However, despite not being able to speak Japanese, there are things you can do to make your rental process smoother;

1) Figure out your budget – your maximum budget for your rental property is 1/3rd your JAPAN EARNED monthly income. For example, if you want an apartment that is listed at ¥100,000 / month then you have to prove you make at least ¥300,000 / month.

2) Get your paperwork ready ahead of time before contacting an agent – The paperwork you need to get prepared are as follows;
a) Color copies of your passport picture page, visa, and both sides of your alien registration card.
b) A letter of employment from your company (or companies) with salary information (in Japanese a 在籍証明書 or zai-seki-sho-mei-sho)
c) If you have been in Japan longer than 1 year then it would be prudent to prepare a copy of your yearly income slip (in Japanese your 源泉徴収表;gen – sen – cho – shu- hyo)

If you have a Japanese guarantor, then they will have to prepare the following as well;
a) Their Jyu-min-hyo (住民票 or proof of residence)
b) Their Gen-sen-chu-hyo (Same as yours but only theirs)
c) Their In-kan-sho-mei-sho (印鑑証明書 or proof of registered hanko)

Be certain to give your guarantor PLENTY of time to get these things ready as they will have to go to their local government office to obtain A and B listed above. Please note that to have a successful guarantor they will be evaluated the same way you will be; they must show that the rent of the apartment they want to guarantee does not exceed 1/3rd their monthly income. If it does then they can not be your guarantor and you will not have an apartment. In this case you can use a guarantor company.

A guarantor company is a third party insurance company that agrees to act in lieu of a guarantor. The property manager of the apartment you wish to apply for will be able to efficiently introduce their preferred guarantor company and there is no extra paperwork necessary as the same information to apply to the property manager is used to apply for the guarantor company.

However the guarantor company will need an Emergency Contact person listed in order to contract with you. An emergency contact is NOT the guarantor but is someone the guarantor company can call in case you don’t pay your rent (hospitalization or sudden departure of the country for example). They are not in anyway personally responsible for your lease at all.

The emergency contact person must provide the following information to the guarantor company through your realtor in email format; – Name in Kanji (this person must be a Japanese citizen) – Home and Cellular telephone numbers – Work telephone number – Home postal address – Work postal address – Birth date – email address Please note that most when most Japanese people hear the word “Guarantor” as in “I need an emergency contact person for my guarantor company.” they will be apprehensive to agree. Reason is despite being Japanese, the penalties incurred if you skip out in the middle of a contract can be severe.

Collect all the information above and THEN start contacting real estate agents. If all of the above information is ready by the time you start looking then it will be a much smoother and painless process in getting through the paperwork necessary and getting your keys!

Start finding apartments in Japan with foreigner-friendly rental listings on the GaijinPot Japan Apartments section.

Author of this article


GaijinPot is an online community for foreigners living in Japan, providing information on everything you need to know about enjoying life here, from finding a job and accommodation to having fun.

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  • Jyojitamai

    I am a Japanese Citizen, because i was born in Sapporo,Japan and i have a Japanese Passport.I grew up in the USA, I only lived in Japan as a little Boy.

    I want to move to Japan and live here.I am thinking of moving to Okinawa. I want to buy a house there.
    Can, i just move to Japan and buy a house, i am a Japanese

  • Yumi Zabre

    I believe that if you have a Japanese passport, then the rules for Japanese nationals apply to you too…though you might need someone to help you out with paperwork, and I believe Japanese too need guarantors, don’t they?
    EDIT> Sorry, I didn’t realize the comment was 1 year old, hope it is useful to someone else!


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