The Main Problems Foreigners Face Renting Homes in Japan

  • Advice

Renting a house in Japan, especially in Tokyo, is one of the big challenges that expats face when moving to Japan. It is a complicated process that involves strict regulations, procedures, complex paperwork, and the high cost of commission fees. There are a lot of problems renting real estate in Japan that foreigners have never encountered in the US and other countries. The Japan Times asked foreigners to share their experiences of real estate hunting, and also approached some agents who are providing the services to find the right house for foreigners. Japanese real estate owners so often refuse to rent to foreign residents because of the following problems: Language barriers, absence in Japan, bank accounts, guarantors, high fees.

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Language is a big barrier to rent ideal units

Japan is a non-English speaking country, therefore language is a big barrier for foreigners searching for their ideal real estate. Going through the rental process without any knowledge of Japanese can be extremely difficult, especially when it comes to difficult real estate terms.  A renter without any Japanese language knowledge may need English translation services in order to deal with any rental inconveniences that may arise in your apartment. Thus, it is a wise choice for foreign renters to go through a rental agency specializing in helping foreigners to make the process transparent and simple.

Nearly impossible to secure a rental in Japan, when you’re not physically present 

To rent an independent property, they are required to have a guarantor in Japan is almost impossible when you’re not personally present. As it is mentioned in the previous paragraph, real estate hunting is a complex process and a complete procedure. If someone is interested in renting a house in Japan, some local brokers provide the necessary details of securing your new property in Japan. 

Bank account requirements:

When renters start to look for the property you’ll need a bank account eventually to pay the rent via bank transfer. Cash transactions are rare in Japan because of strict local regulations. It is better to check your agent about wiring money, as in the case of using a foreign bank account you’ll have to bear all transaction costs in addition to being aware of the extra time a wire will take. 

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Having a guarantor is essential to rent in Japan:

It is mandatory for tenants to arrange a Japanese guarantor if they want to rent a property in Japan. Japanese lower house anonymous approved a bill regarding debt and contracts. A new law has been passed regarding renting a property; the new regulations cover approved the following four points:

  1. Security deposits

  2. Guarantors

  3. Rental properties for businesses 

  4. Landlord’s obligation

A guarantor is considered an insurer of the rental contract and promises to pay for any damage if the tenant can’t pay or unexpectedly ends the contract by leaving the country. It is a major obstacle for a foreigner to rent property in Japan. On the other hand, there are the following options to handle the situation: 

  1. Ask for the host company 

  2. A guarantor company 

  3. Live in a share company to avoid guarantor problems

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Exorbitant Fees Upon Move-in: 

Along with the large list of rules that come with renting, there are also major financial hurdles that need to be overcome to rent a home in Japan. The following is the hypothetical list of costs involved in renting a house:

If rent per month = X

First Month’s Rent 




Agent’s Fee

X + Tax 

Guarantor’s Fee

X+ Tax 

Key Money
One Time Payment to Owner

Property maintenance fee

Miscellaneous expense  

Renters/Fire insurance

As the government announced  

Lock exchange fee 

Miscellaneous expense  

Contract Renewal fee 


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