You will generally find it easier/have more choice finding an apartment in Japan when using a real estate agent. There is no charge to use an agent until a contract has been signed, but if you do decide on an accommodation that you found through them, it will cost you a fee equal to approximately one month’s rent.
Special Code Words
Special code words you will find at real estate agencies:
A “mansion” is generally an upscale apartment.
- 1K (one room and a kitchen)
- 1DK (one room and a dining room/kitchen)
- 1LDK (one room, a living room, and a dining room/kitchen)
- Measurements are usually in terms of tatami mats (jou). Tatami mats generally measure 1 x.5 meters. An average, small room will measure around 6 jou.
Be prepared to pay a bundle of dough up front. The move-in costs generally amount to 3 to 7 months of rent (even for modest places, plan on paying somewhere between 300,000 – 500,000 yen before you see the front door key).The initial move-in fees generally break down as such:
- 1st month’s rent.
- Reservation fee (tetsukekin) usually equal to one month’s rent is paid when you apply for an apartment and before the contract is signed and is returned after the contract is signed.
- Refundable damage deposit (Shikikin) equal to 2-3 months rent. This is refundable in theory, but don’t plan on getting all of it back.
- Key money (Reikin) equal to 1-2 months rent as a nonrefundable gift to the landlord (ouch!). In the past few years, some landlords have been abandoning this fee, but this is still the exception, not the rule.
- An agency fee is usually a real estate agent, you’ll be expected to pay a fee that amounts to about 1 month’s rent.
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Image courtesy of 663highland / Wikimedia.