The Lease Agreement

Understand what to expect from the tenancy agreement when renting property in Japan...

Once a property has been chosen, there are a number of procedures to follow before signing the contract (keiyakusho). The first step is to send an application to the owner of the property. This is generally sent through the estate agent. In some cases, an application fee has to be paid, or "earnest money" (tetsukekin) to secure the apartment. This amounts to approximately one month's rent and is deducted from the key money when the lease is signed.

The lease is generally in Japanese, although if dealing with an English-speaking agency, a copy can be provided in English.

The following documents are generally requested before signing a lease:

  • Proof of identity - passport with valid visa
  • Student card - if applicable
  • Resident Card/Alien Registration Card - for foreigners
  • Residence Certificate - for Japanese residents
  • Proof of income, for example a statement of income from the employer
  • Agreement of the guarantor

Once the landlord has reviewed the application and is satisfied, negotiations for a contract can begin. This usually takes place at an agency, acting on behalf of the owner and can take up to a week.

The contract generally includes the following:

  • Names of the landlord and the tenant
  • Length of the lease
  • Rental amount and how it should be paid
  • Conditions for increasing rent
  • Penalty fee for delay of rent payment
  • Maintenance fee
  • Guarantor (hoshonin) who assumes financial responsibility if the tenant does not pay. Many agencies have agreements with companies that provide a guarantor service. Employers are the preferred and cheaper option to act as a guarantor
  • Tenant's and landlord's obligations
  • Special provisions, for example related to keeping pets
  • Conditions for renewing and terminating a contract
  • Genjo kaifuku - This is the concept of restoring a rented property to its original condition. Some landlord's may request that the tenant replaces the tatami flooring and paper screens (shoji) at the end of the lease