Land prices in Japan are generally high and housing and rents are expensive. When renting a house, people generally refer to housing magazines or consult real estate agents. If you do not understand Japanese, this can be difficult and it is therefore better to visit a real estate agent accompanied by a Japanese speaker.

Room sizes are estimated by the number of tatami mats used.
1 jo = 0.9m~1.8m
Land and housing lots are estimated by tsubo.
1 tsubo = 2 jo
Apartments are described by LDK (L = Living room; D = Dining area; K = Kitchen). For example, a 2DK has two rooms and a dining kitchen, a 1K has one room and a small kitchen, a 3LDK has three rooms with a large combined living, dining and kitchen.

Apartments and Mansions

An apato is an apartment with thin walls. These apartment buildings are usually two story structures of wooden frame. Some apato have communal facilities, and some do not have a bath.

Mansions are condominiums which are more solidly constructed generally of reinforced concrete, and are often multi-story buildings. They are usually larger and of higher quality than apato.
Boarding houses

One room is provided, mainly for students. Kitchens and toilets are often shared with other tenants. Baths are often common use, or tenants often use public baths. Meals are provided by the landlord in most cases.

There are not many houses available for rent. They are more expensive than apartments. Some specialty magazines provide information on houses for rent.


Rent refers to monthly room rent. Check if a full month's rent is charged even when moving in the middle of the month.
Maintenance expenses

Maintenance expenses are used to maintain a property. In addition to the monthly rent, a tenant is required to pay electricity charge for lights and repair expenses of common-use areas. Maintenance expenses for elevators are also charged every month.
Key Money (reikin)

To start up a new rental, the equivalent of up to six months' rent may be necessary. The usual pattern involves a realtor's fee (1 month), the first month's rent, a two-month deposit and 'key money', a two-month gratuity paid to the landlord. The key money is non-refundable.

As the real estate market in Japan softens, more apartment vacancies mean that a few places now do not require key money or only require one a month gratuity. It may be worth trying to negotiate on this point.
Deposit (shikikin)

The deposit is used to cover any damage to the apartment, or any cleaning which is necessary when you leave. One of the first things to wear out are the tatami mats. It usually corresponds to one or two month's rents.
In the event of cancellation by a tenant, down payment, a deposit paid prior to contract is not often refunded. Be careful when paying down payments.

If a tenant wishes to terminate a contract during the contract period, the contract can be terminated after the designated period (usually one to three months), provided the tenant gives prior notice as specified in the contract.

If a contract must be immediately terminated due to unavoidable reasons, it can be generally terminated by payment equivalent to rent for the remaining period. Make sure whether special conditions are stated in the written contract.

When a landlord terminates a contract, the contract is deemed to be completed in six months after notice. He must, however, provide a justifiable reason such as follows:
The landlord himself wishes to use the property.
The tenant fails to pay rent or uses the property for a purpose other than the original purpose.

When a tenant vacates a property, he is obliged to restore it to its original conditions (restoration duty).

Security deposits are often refunded after repair expenses are deducted for restoring the original conditions, but troubles often occur over such expenses or required repairs.

When entering into a lease contract, it is advisable for a tenant to make sure in which cases the property should be repaired and to put them in writing before signing the contract.
Confirm whether smokers are obliged to change the wallpaper before vacating a property.
Make sure to what extent or how much damage to floor should be repaired.
If you do not agree with the charged repair expenses, negotiate with the landlord by taking appropriate measures, including asking the landlord to offer a written repair estimate.

When moving in or vacating a property, examine stains and damage in the presence of the landlord or a representative of the management company. When vacating a property, a tenant must inform the landlord of the date of vacating.