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Is rent illegal in Japan?


Renting a property in Japan can be a complex and confusing process for foreigners due to cultural and legal differences. One of the most common questions asked by expats is whether rent is illegal in Japan. In this article, we will explore the answer to this question and provide a comprehensive overview of the rental market in Japan.

The Japanese Rental Market

The rental market in Japan is unique with its own set of customs and practices. It is common for landlords to require a substantial security deposit and key money, which can add up to several months’ worth of rent. However, despite these high upfront costs, renting in Japan is generally considered to be safe and reliable.

Japanese Snack Box

The Law on Rent in Japan

There is no law against rent in Japan. However, there are strict regulations that govern the relationship between landlords and tenants. For example, landlords must provide a written contract that outlines the terms of the lease agreement, including the amount of rent and any additional fees or charges.

Security Deposits and Key Money

As mentioned earlier, landlords in Japan often require a substantial security deposit and key money from tenants. The security deposit is typically returned at the end of the lease period, provided there is no damage to the property. Key money, on the other hand, is non-refundable and is used as a gesture of goodwill towards the landlord.

Rental Prices in Japan

Rental prices in Japan vary depending on the location, size, and condition of the property. In general, Tokyo and other major cities are more expensive than rural areas. It’s important to note that rental prices are often negotiable, especially if you’re willing to sign a longer lease or pay a higher security deposit.

The Role of Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents play an important role in the Japanese rental market. They act as intermediaries between landlords and tenants and help negotiate contracts and other issues. However, be aware that real estate agents often charge high fees for their services, so it’s important to shop around before committing to one.

The Importance of Communication

Communication is key when renting a property in Japan. As a foreigner, it can be difficult to navigate the cultural differences and language barriers that exist. It’s essential to ask questions and clarify any misunderstandings with your landlord or real estate agent before signing any contracts.

Legal Protections for Tenants

Tenants in Japan have legal protections under the law. For example, landlords are not allowed to enter a tenant’s property without permission or evict them without proper notice. Additionally, tenants have the right to dispute any unfair treatment or breaches of contract through the court system.

Renewal of Lease Agreements

In Japan, it’s common for lease agreements to be renewed automatically unless either party gives notice to terminate. This can make it difficult for tenants who want to move out at the end of their lease period without incurring any penalties or fees.

Eviction Procedures

Landlords in Japan can legally evict tenants for non-payment of rent or other breaches of contract. However, they must follow strict legal procedures that protect tenants’ rights. This includes providing written notice and giving tenants ample opportunity to rectify any issues before resorting to eviction.


In conclusion, renting a property in Japan is legal and safe for foreigners as long as they understand the unique customs and regulations that govern the rental market. It’s important to communicate clearly with landlords or real estate agents, negotiate terms where possible, and seek legal advice if necessary. With these precautions in mind, renting a property in Japan can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for expats looking to live or work in this fascinating country.

Does Japan have rent control?

Tokyo does not have explicit rent control laws, however, experts suggest that their restricted rent adjustments during lease renewals can be viewed as a type of rent control that has been proven to discourage the availability of rental properties. This was reported on May 10, 2021.

Why can’t foreigners rent in Japan?

To be eligible for rental housing, a background check is mandatory, regardless of your nationality or whether you are making an individual or company contract. This is a standard procedure that every applicant must go through.

Why is it so hard to rent in Japan?

It is uncommon to rent an apartment directly from the owner, as most leasing is done through a local agent. However, it can be difficult to communicate with these agents as they often do not speak English and may not work with clients who cannot speak Japanese. This is mostly due to practical reasons.

What happens if you don’t pay rent in Japan?

If a tenant fails to pay their rent, a landlord must go to court to resolve the issue. If the landlord does not speak Japanese or is living outside the country, they may need to hire a lawyer to handle the legal proceedings. This may involve a retainer fee starting at ¥250,000.

Does Japan allow homelessness?

Housing is often unaffordable for many impoverished Japanese people due to the high cost of living in certain regions of Japan. Those who cannot afford proper housing may live in areas known as doya’gai, which are male-only districts with low-cost accommodations resembling flop houses. These districts are a common alternative to homeless shelters for those experiencing financial hardship.

Is renting a girlfriend in Japan?

There is now an app that allows individuals to rent a girlfriend or boyfriend for a few hours, which was inspired by a popular Japanese anime called Kanojo, Okarishimasu. This practice is legal and allows people to reach their relationship goals even if they are currently single.

Utilities and Maintenance

In Japan, tenants are responsible for paying their own utility bills, such as electricity, gas, and water. It’s important to budget accordingly and factor in these expenses when considering the overall cost of renting a property. Additionally, tenants are expected to maintain the property in good condition throughout their lease period, which includes basic cleaning and upkeep.

Furnished vs. Unfurnished Properties

When searching for a rental property in Japan, tenants may come across both furnished and unfurnished options. Furnished properties are typically more expensive but offer the convenience of not having to purchase or transport furniture. Unfurnished properties, on the other hand, may be more affordable but require tenants to provide their own furniture and appliances.

Pet-Friendly Rentals

Pet ownership is becoming more popular in Japan, but finding a pet-friendly rental can be challenging. Many landlords do not allow pets due to concerns over damage or noise complaints. However, there are some options available for pet owners, such as apartments that specifically cater to pets or houses with fenced-in yards.

Short-Term Rentals

For those who are only staying in Japan for a short period of time, there are options for short-term rentals. These include guesthouses, hostels, and serviced apartments. While these options may be more expensive than traditional rentals, they offer the flexibility of not being tied down to a long-term lease agreement.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the rental market in Japan can be complex and intimidating for foreigners. However, with proper research and preparation, it is possible to find a suitable property that meets your needs and budget. Remember to factor in additional costs such as security deposits and key money, communicate clearly with your landlord or real estate agent, and seek legal advice if necessary. With these tips in mind, you can navigate the rental market in Japan with confidence and ease.

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