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Is it hard for foreigners to rent in Japan?


Japan is known for its unique culture, technology, and stunning natural beauty. Every year, thousands of foreigners visit Japan for tourism, education, and work-related purposes. However, one of the biggest challenges that foreigners face in Japan is finding a place to live. In this article, we will explore the difficulties that foreigners face when renting in Japan.

Cultural Differences

One of the biggest challenges that foreigners face when renting in Japan is cultural differences. Japanese landlords have a particular way of doing things, and it might not align with what foreigners are used to. For example, when renting an apartment in Japan, the tenant is expected to pay a deposit and key money upfront. This concept may be unfamiliar to foreigners coming from other countries.

Japanese Snack Box

Language Barrier

Another significant challenge that foreigners face when renting in Japan is the language barrier. Most Japanese landlords and real estate agents do not speak English fluently, which makes it difficult for foreigners to communicate their needs and preferences effectively. This language barrier can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication.

High Rent Costs

The cost of living in Japan is known to be high, and rent costs are no exception. Renting an apartment in Tokyo or other major cities can be very expensive. For many foreigners who come to Japan on a budget, finding affordable housing can be a real challenge.

Credit Checks

In Japan, landlords often conduct credit checks on potential tenants before allowing them to rent an apartment. This process can be challenging for foreigners who have not built up credit history in Japan or have a low credit score.


In Japan, it is common practice for landlords to require a guarantor before leasing an apartment. A guarantor is usually someone who can vouch for the tenant’s character and financial stability. For foreigners who do not have any family or friends in Japan who can act as guarantors, finding one can be a significant obstacle.


In Japan, renting an apartment involves a lot of paperwork. Foreigners who are not familiar with the Japanese rental system may find the paperwork overwhelming and confusing. Additionally, some paperwork may require the use of Japanese characters, making it challenging for non-Japanese speakers to fill out forms correctly.


Japanese landlords typically require tenants to pay a security deposit upfront when renting an apartment. This deposit can be quite substantial and can be a financial burden for many foreigners who are just starting their lives in Japan.

Finding Available Housing

With the high demand for housing in Japan’s major cities, finding available housing can be a real challenge for foreigners. Many apartments are already occupied or have long waiting lists before they become available for rent.

Real Estate Agents Fees

In Japan, working with a real estate agent is common when searching for an apartment to rent. However, these agents charge fees that can add up quickly, making it challenging for foreigners to find affordable housing.

Furnishing Apartments

Many apartments in Japan are not furnished, which means that renters need to purchase furniture and appliances themselves. For many foreigners who are only staying in Japan temporarily, furnishing an entire apartment can be costly and time-consuming.

Cultural Customs

Renting an apartment in Japan also involves following certain cultural customs that may be different from what foreigners are used to. For example, tenants are expected to keep their apartments clean and quiet at all times out of respect for their neighbors.


In conclusion, renting an apartment in Japan can be challenging for foreigners due to various reasons such as language barriers, cultural differences, high rent costs, credit checks, guarantors requirements, paperwork requirements among others mentioned above. However, with careful planning and research beforehand and engaging with trustworthy real estate agents familiar with working with foreign clients,finding suitable housing options becomes more accessible.

Why is it hard for foreigners to rent in Japan?

The primary challenge for foreigners trying to rent in Japan is the refusal of property owners or management companies to rent to them. According to some real estate agents, only a small percentage (10-20%) of apartments in Japan are available for foreigners to rent.

Can foreigners rent houses in Japan?

To be eligible for renting a home, a background check is mandatory. This check is necessary regardless of your nationality, whether you are making an individual or company contract.

Why is it so hard to rent an apartment in Japan?

Finding an apartment to rent directly from the owner is uncommon, as most leasing is done through a local agent. However, it can be difficult for non-Japanese speakers to find an agent willing to work with them, as most agents and people in general in this industry do not speak English. This is mainly due to practical reasons.

Is it easy to live in Japan as a foreigner?

If properly prepared, moving to Japan can be a straightforward process. Generally, expatriates can bring their household goods into the country without any issues. However, it is advisable to create an English and Japanese itemized list.

Why don t Japanese apartments accept foreigners?

Landlords are worried that foreign tenants may leave without paying rent, leaving them in a difficult situation. Additionally, they are concerned that foreign renters may not stay for an extended period of time. Landlords would rather have a reliable long-term tenant than have to repeat the rental process frequently.

Can Americans rent property in Japan?

For foreigners in Japan, finding a place to rent can be challenging, particularly if it’s their first time. A significant number of real estate companies and property owners may deny them, leaving them with limited options. Only a small percentage, roughly 10-20%, of real estate agencies in Japan will rent to foreigners.

Alternative Housing Options

For foreigners who are having a hard time finding an apartment for rent, there are alternative housing options available. One option is to stay in a guesthouse or sharehouse, which can be more affordable and offer a community-like living experience. Another option is to rent a short-term furnished apartment, which can be more convenient for those who do not want to purchase furniture or appliances.

Working with a Real Estate Agent

Working with a real estate agent can be beneficial for foreigners who are unfamiliar with the Japanese rental system. A good agent can help navigate the language barrier, explain cultural customs, and guide tenants through the paperwork process. However, it is important to choose an agent who has experience working with foreign clients and can understand their needs and preferences.

Understanding the Rental Agreement

Before signing a rental agreement, it is essential to read through it carefully and understand all of the terms and conditions. It is also important to ask questions if anything seems unclear or confusing. Tenants should make sure they agree with everything in the contract before signing it to avoid any future disputes or misunderstandings.

Building Relationships with Landlords

In Japan, building good relationships with landlords can be beneficial for tenants. By being respectful, paying rent on time, and following cultural customs, tenants can establish trust with their landlords. This relationship can lead to better communication and possibly even lower rent costs in the future.


Renting an apartment in Japan can be challenging for foreigners due to various reasons such as cultural differences, language barriers, high rent costs, and strict requirements. However, with careful research, planning, and the right approach, finding suitable housing options becomes more accessible. Engaging with trustworthy real estate agents familiar with working with foreign clients can help navigate the rental process while building good relationships with landlords can lead to better living experiences in Japan.

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