Housing Issues: What do you have to know?

Advance Rent

Rent is paid in advance usually by the end of the month preceding that for which rent is due.


The standard realtor’s commission is one month’s rent.


Most rental contracts will be in Japanese. There may be an English translation but usually the Japanese version will be controlling. Contracts should be signed by the corporation sponsoring the transferee. HR personnel are familiar with the many details and commitments attendant to your lease. They can intercede in the negotiation process, if necessary. Generally once you and the property owner have come to a basic agreement (i.e. rent, starting date, etc.) a draft of the contract will be faxed to you or the person in your company in charge of such matters. Particulars of the lease agreement may need to be negotiated after which two formal copies of the lease agreement will be made to be signed and held by each party. Contracts are generally for two years with a one-month penalty if cancelled before the end of the first year. 2 months notice is also usually required for cancellation.


Six month’s advance deposit is often requested. It sometimes may be even negotiated down to four months or less. When you move or at the lease end, any needed cleaning or repairs will be deducted from the original deposit.

Housing Damage

When moving out of your home in Japan, an inspection of the apartment or house will be conducted. This will be attended by the owner and/or his representative, the real estate agent and the tenant. The inspection is necessary to determine whether or not any damage has occurred. If there is damage, the cost of repair will be invoiced to your company and deducted from the security deposit. Each company has a different policy as the employee’s portion of liability.

Key Money

When required, key money is a non-refundable gift to the landlord for letting you rent that property. It is usually the equivalent of two months’ rent but can be negotiated. In the case of the more expensive apartments and houses key money is not usually requested.

Monthly Maintenance Fee

Maintenance fees are almost always included in the monthly rent.


You cannot own a car in Tokyo without a parking space. Most apartment buildings have parking spaces for their units. It is, nevertheless, important for you to check if the property you are interested in has “parking”.


Many landlords will not rent to pet owners. If you own a pet, notify all realtors before real estate appointments are made.

Telephone Lines

Apartments in many buildings have an installed line with an assigned number. The new occupant assumes that telephone number. ISDN lines are usually not supplied on a standard basis.


Many owners have already installed cable or satellite television in the apartment or house. However, the tenant is usually responsible for certain cable fees (see television services).


Ten to fifteen percent of a month’s rent is the general rule of thumb for utility costs (gas, water, and power). Your agent is responsible for making the arrangements for utility connections. Connection is established very promptly after the request is made.

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