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


Japan is one of the most developed countries in the world, with a high standard of living and an excellent education system. However, despite its modernity, finding an apartment to rent in Japan can be a challenging and frustrating experience for many people. In this article, we will explore the reasons why it is so hard to rent an apartment in Japan.

High Demand for Apartments

The demand for apartments in Japan is incredibly high due to the country’s population density. Tokyo, for example, has a population of over 13 million people, which means that there is a significant shortage of available housing. This high demand means that landlords can afford to be very selective with their tenants and charge high rents.

Japanese Snack Box

Expensive Move-In Fees

In Japan, it is common for landlords to charge expensive move-in fees, which can include key money (a non-refundable gift to the landlord), deposit (usually one or two months’ rent), and agency fees (up to one month’s rent). These fees can add up quickly and make it difficult for many people to afford to move into a new apartment.

Lack of Guarantors

In Japan, it is common for landlords to require a guarantor when renting an apartment. This guarantor is usually a Japanese citizen who agrees to pay the rent if the tenant cannot. However, if you do not have any Japanese friends or family members who are willing to act as guarantors, it can be challenging to find an apartment to rent.

Strict Screening Process

Landlords in Japan are known for their strict screening process when choosing tenants. They often require a detailed application form, proof of income and employment, and even a background check. This screening process can make it difficult for foreigners or anyone without a stable job or income to find an apartment.

Cultural Differences

The Japanese rental market operates differently from other countries. For example, it is common for landlords to require tenants to sign a two-year lease and pay all move-in fees upfront. Additionally, some landlords may require tenants to follow strict rules regarding noise levels or even prohibit certain activities like cooking certain foods. These cultural differences can make renting an apartment in Japan challenging for foreigners.

Language Barrier

Japanese rental contracts and applications are often written in Japanese only, making it difficult for non-Japanese speakers to understand the terms and conditions. Additionally, many landlords do not speak English fluently, which can make communication challenging.

Small Apartments

In Japan, apartments are notoriously small compared to Western standards. It can be challenging to find an affordable apartment that meets your space requirements. Additionally, many apartments do not have built-in storage space, which can make it difficult to store your belongings.


The location of your apartment can significantly impact your rental experience. Apartments located in desirable areas such as Tokyo or Osaka are often more expensive than those in less popular areas. Additionally, if you need to commute to work or school, you may need to live close to a train station or bus stop, which can add extra costs.

Pet Restrictions

If you have pets, finding an apartment in Japan can be even more challenging. Many landlords do not allow pets due to concerns about noise and damage. Even if you do find a pet-friendly apartment, you may be required to pay an additional fee or deposit.


The rental market in Japan is incredibly competitive due to high demand and limited supply. Landlords can afford to be selective with their tenants and choose those who have stable jobs and income. This competition means that you may need to act quickly when you find an apartment you like.


Renting an apartment in Japan can be an uphill battle due to various factors such as high demand, strict screening processes, expensive move-in fees, and cultural differences. However, by understanding these challenges and seeking help from professionals such as real estate agents or relocation services, you can increase your chances of finding the perfect apartment that fits your needs and budget.


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

The number one reason why it is difficult for foreigners to rent in Japan. Is that owners or management companies do not allow foreigners into their properties. Some realtors will tell you that only 10-20% of apartments in Japan will allow foreigners.Aug 31, 2020

Is it difficult to rent an apartment in Japan?

Finding housing in Japan as a foreigner is fairly simple. Expats should not face many restrictions when looking to rent an apartment or buy a house. One of the most difficult hurdles expats will face is the requirement of a guarantor.

Is it easy to get an apartment in Japan?

Renting an apartment in Japan can be stressful — especially if you’re a foreigner. If you’re lucky enough to have an offer from an established international company, it might not be too hard. But most companies don’t have enough resources to offer much support when it comes to finding a place to live.Jan 31, 2023

Can you rent an apartment in Japan as a foreigner?

In order to apply for rental housing, you will have to pass a background check. This background check is required regardless of whether or not you are a foreigner, Japanese, making an individual contract, or making a company contract.Oct 12, 2022

Can Americans rent property in Japan?

Renting as a foreigner in Japan can be hard – especially if it’s your first time. Many agencies and landlords will refuse to rent to foreigners. It is estimated that only 10-20% of real estate companies in Japan will rent to foreigners.

Is renting a girlfriend in Japan?

It is official to rent a gf/bf through an app There is this famous Japanese anime that’s called Kanojo, Okarishimasu where he rents a girlfriend to reach his goals when his girlfriend brokeup with him. Turns out this is real. You can legally rent a partner — a girlfriend or a boyfriend — through an app for a few hours.

Alternative Housing Options

If you are having trouble finding an apartment in Japan, there are some alternative housing options you could consider. One option is to live in a share house or guesthouse. These are communal living spaces where you rent a private room and share common areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, and living room with other tenants. Another option is to rent a short-term furnished apartment, which can be a good option if you’re only staying in Japan for a few months.

Using a Real Estate Agent

Using a real estate agent can be helpful when searching for an apartment in Japan. They can help you navigate the rental process, negotiate with landlords on your behalf, and provide translations if necessary. However, it’s important to note that using a real estate agent will usually come with additional fees.

Preparing Your Documents

To make the rental process smoother, it’s important to prepare your documents in advance. This includes your passport or residence card, proof of income and employment, and any other relevant documents. Having these documents ready to go can speed up the application process and make you a more attractive tenant to landlords.

Building Relationships with Landlords

Building relationships with landlords can be crucial when renting an apartment in Japan. This can be done by being polite and respectful during viewings and communicating clearly and promptly during the application process. Additionally, if you have any Japanese friends or acquaintances who can introduce you to potential landlords, this can also be helpful.


Renting an apartment in Japan can certainly be challenging due to high demand, strict screening processes, and cultural differences. However, by being prepared and seeking help from professionals such as real estate agents or relocation services, you can increase your chances of finding the perfect apartment for you. Don’t get discouraged if it takes some time – with persistence and patience, you’ll find the right place to call home in Japan.

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