Guide to Renting Property in Tokyo
While any international move can be challenging, a move to Tokyo often requires unique lifestyle adjustments and a reordering of one‘s priorities.
The sheer size and complexity of the city may initially seem insurmountable.
However, with proper planning, most foreigners settle in comfortably and quickly and come to appreciate the unique cultural and social opportunities this world capital affords.
A key lies in engineering a lifestyle that is convenient and rewarding for all members of the family.
First steps toward achieving this are:
- Choose the right neighborhood
- Type of Housing
- Understanding the Lease
- Time frame and Steps
- Locating Pet-friendly Housing
- Taking Care of Your New Home
Choose the neighborhood that is right for you.
Tokyo area information Residential area guide with maps for parts of Central Tokyo and some suburbs popular with expats.
Tokyo JR & Subway Maps Useful guide to find commuter routes
International School List Plaza Homes has excellent knowledge of the numerous international school locations and even bus routes. We can advise properties perfect for your children’s school commute.
Type of Housing - Furnished or Unfurnished
Recommended to those who are planning to stay less than 1 year.
Many options are available ranging from “weekly economical mansions” to spacious, fully-serviced executive grade apartments. “Furnished” housing generally includes basic furniture, TV, DVD and internet connections, dishes, white goods and weekly cleaning. Amenities such as front desk service, health club facilities and business centers may also be included. The rate often includes utilities such as electricity, etc.
House - Unfurnished
The rental contract for unfurnished housing is normally 2 years. It is recommended for those who are planning to stay longer than one year. Many contracts include penalties for cancelling a contract within 1 year.
Apartment - Unfurnished
Unfurnished apartments make up the majority of available properties in central Tokyo. Apartments range widely from compact, studio type units to large 5LDK units, low-rises and high-rises, apartments that allow pets, designer’s apartments, vintage apartments, apartments with specifications geared towards foreigners, luxurious apartments with hotel-like concierge services, apartments with earthquake proof structure, etc.
House - Unfurnished
These properties range from detached houses with a garden, terrace houses, houses with a layout geared towards foreigners, houses in a gated compound, etc. Central Tokyo or in its Suburbs; Plaza Homes can introduce houses that are on an international school bus route.
Rental furniture is also available upon request.
Most rental residential properties in Japan require that renters do not wear shoes inside the property.
Understanding the Lease
- Rent Paid monthly in advance to the owner. A late fee may be exacted if rent is overdue. Payment of the first and next month's rent is generally required upon initiation of the lease.
- Deposit All properties in Japan require a deposit. The size of the deposit may vary from two months rent up to four to six months for expatriate grade properties. The deposit is "technically" refundable. In most cases, a portion of the deposit is deducted to pay for restoration and cleaning of the property when the tenant leaves. Restoration costs can be greatly minimized by careful maintenance of the property.
- Key Money Sometimes called "thank you" money. A sum generally around one to two month's rent and paid to the lessor at the initiation of the lease. It is not refundable.
- Agent Fee / Commission Industry standard provides for one-month's rent to be paid to the real estate agent as commission.
- Management (Maintenance) Fee A monthly fee for general building maintenance and, possibly to defer the cost of an on-site building manager.
- Renewal Fee Money to be paid to the owner when you renew the lease contract on expiration of a lease term. The amount is in most cases equivalent to one month's rent.
Type of Lease Agreement (Contract)
- Normal Rental Agreement (Renewable) Usually, it is a 2-year contact. Sometimes renewal fee arises at the time of agreement renewal.
- Fixed-Term Rental Agreement (Not renewable) The rental agreement terminates on the expiry date of the agreement. The agreement can be re-contracted only if both lessee and lessor agreed.
Time frame and Steps Involved in Securing a Home
You should generally begin your home search at least two weeks before your desired move-in date. It is difficult to secure a suitable property more than eight weeks before the move-in date, except when applying for a property is currently under renovation or, the existing tenant cooperates in its showing.
You should plan on spending at least one day to view properties, and up to a week if special needs are indicated. Below is a typical schedule of events once you have located a property that interests you:
Application Basically a document stating intent to contract a lease. (Applications are not legally binding but they should not be submitted casually - let your Plaza Homes agent guide you in this process.) Any requests related to the property must be submitted at this time and will be considered by the owner. Requests typically include minor maintenance or renovation work, the addition of various fixtures, cable or satellite TV. Once again, it is best to let your agent guide you in making these requests as negotiability varies from property to property.
Landlord‘s Response Usually within 48 hours. If “accepted”- move on to draft lease. If declined - continue housing search.
Note: Landlords may “accept” under certain conditions, meaning the elimination or reduction of requests.
Your PLAZA HOMES agent stand on your behalf in these negotiations.
Draft Contract Generally prepared in Japanese . The English translation may be available depending on the landlord.
A copy will be sent to your corporate HR for review, negotiation and approval. Your real estate agent will also review the lease terms.
Final 'Original' Contract Once all parties agree, an 'Original' contract is made. There can be no further negotiation at this stage. The original is taken to your company for execution, and all related fees become due and payable before the lease start date. Japanese landlord's will never turn over a property before receiving payment in full.
Prior to move-in day Your Plaza Homes agent will see that all utilities, telephone and satellite or cable services are arranged before you move in. Your agent will provide you with detailed information as to your many options and inform you of any pertinent building policies. Please be very specific about your needs in this area. Your real estate agent will also coordinate with your moving company and the building manager to see that the move is smooth and trouble free.
Move-in day Your agent will conduct a thorough inspection of your new property and will train you in the use of all appliances and climate control systems.
Locating Pet-friendly Housing
Having a pet at a rental property
- Properties not accepting any pets If a tenant is found to have a pet against the agreement, the agreement may be terminated and penalties may apply.
- Properties allowing pets
- ● Properties that allow pets under certain conditions such as up to two small pets, only dogs, etc.
- ● Properties that are open to having pets. Such properties are designed to create an environment where the residents
can live with pets comfortably such as by having a footbath for pets, etc.
- ● Properties that allow large dogs
Normally, you will be asked to sign an agreement referring to the conditions in order to have a pet at a rental property:
- The tenant agrees not to disturb the neighbours. The tenant is solely responsible to compensate for any damages due to the pet.
- The tenant agrees not to increase the number of pets.
- The tenant agrees to be responsible for any restoration fees including disinfection and deodorization at the time of vacating the property.
PLAZA HOMES has many properties that allow or welcome having pets.
Please feel free to providing us with the kind and number of pets you have when making a Housing Search inquiry.
Taking Care of Your New Home
Now that you have settled into your new home, we would like to give you a few tips on caring for your property.
These simple recommendations can significantly reduce damage claims when you vacate. You may or may not be responsible for paying these claims (according to your company policy), but a little care can ensure that claims are kept to a minimum.
Some allowance will be made for the natural aging of carpets, wallpaper and fixtures. However, stains, scratches, holes, 'dings', and any matter of child or pet damage will require 'restoration' at your or your company's expense. Your Japanese landlord will be most concerned about: holes in walls or woodwork (defined as anything larger than a small tack mark); stains, marks or abrasions on wall surfaces; stains to carpeting or mildew damage; scratches or abrasions on counter services in kitchen and bathroom(s), damage to kitchen appliances, plumbing or A/C systems. A little care can avert such damage.
- Wallpaper Wallpaper is very easy to scratch and also easily soiled.But with a bit of attention, you can minimize damage and stains to the wallpaper and hence also restoration charges from the building owner at the time you move out.
- Furniture (bed, desk, bookshelf, closet, chair ) Please install these items a few inches away from the wall to avoid any damage to the wallpaper.
Please be careful to try to avoid scratching the wooden flooring when you move furniture.
Hanging photos and pictures on the wall Please do not nail a hole in the wall. It will be counted as damage to the wall, and you will end up paying for that damage.
Please ask our agent about special hooks that you can use to avoid the restoration fees.
- Air Conditioner Please call the management company if the AC is not working right or there is water leaking from the unit. Leaking water can cause stains on the wallpaper.
In case of leaking water, please call the management company right away in order to inform them of the situation.
For proper maintenance of the air conditioner, please clean the air filter on a regular basis.
- Floors Bothe carpet and wooden floors are easy to get stained or scratched. Please do not hesitate to contact the management company when you make stains such as curry or coffee and are not able to clean it up.