Things to prepare before looking for an apartment in Japan
Renting in a foreign country especially somewhere like Japan is overwhelming, frustrating and time-consuming. Of course with Homekuru we make the journey to renting your new home more enjoyable and a simpler process, but there is a saying ‘if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail’ by Benjamin Franklin, before you start the process of renting a property in Japan we advise you to prepare a couple of things to make life easier. Okay, so perhaps the Benjamin Franklin quote is a bit dramatic but we at Homekuru know how important it is to be fully prepared before looking for that dream home.
So what are those things you need before looking for an apartment to rent in Japan? Grab that document folder, stick on a ‘rental documents’ label and find out from below’s post about the five things you need to have prepared before renting in Japan.
1. Proof of Employment
This should be something that is already at hand and the first thing that can be collected and put into that folder we have been nagging you on about. If your contract is in English, this is also okay and usually only a requirement if you have changed jobs within the last three months. You can use a photocopy for this so be sure to keep the original contract safe and have a few copies of your work contract just incase.
2. IDs — passport / resident card / health insurance card
Initially estate agents would require your ID’s in digital format for identification purposes and then as you have to sign a contract for renting a property this is when you would have to have your original documents at hand in their ‘first copies’ in colour.
Tip : have a photocopy of your passport, resident (zairyu) card (this should have been issued to you when you went to register at your accommodations local city hall) and health insurance card (this also would of been issued when registering at the city hall). Don’t worry if you do not have a photocopier or printer at hand for your documents, most convenient stores have a self service printing/photocopying machine
3. Japanese phone number
This may be obvious but signing a phone contract in Japan is a bit more complicated and can be time consuming. However, if you are looking to rent a property it is vital to have a number where estate agents can contact you directly and for guarantor companies/property manager to contact you for the screening process. It is also strongly advised that you do not use a 050 number - these are number mainly bought online (e.g. via Skype and other online phone number services) and people are usually wary to call these numbers.
There are many options such as buying a sim card before you move to Japan or signing up with a mobile carrier in Japan that offers English assistance, please stay tuned for a future blog post on various options of getting a phone number in Japan!
4. Japanese bank account information
This is something you must have by the time you sign a contract. To open a bank account you also will need a Japanese phone number (see above about Japanese phone number).
Opening a bank account in Japan is not as simple as you may think for foreigners, especially when you haven’t lived in Japan for 6 months yet. The best way to open a bank account is to take someone from your work to help you (that can speak fluent Japanese). With a work contract at hand, your ID’s (passport and resident card) and Japanese speaker, the process should be much smoother.
Another option is using JP Post (many foreigners can open a bank account here without much problem). After you find yourself in Japan for more than six months then Prestia and Shinsei bank are popular options as they provided services in English (Shinsei bank is net banking only so automatic withdrawal payments may not be possible e.g. for mobile phone contracts).
This may be one of the more difficult steps in settling in Japan and something that we will cover in more detail in another post.
5. Income Statement / Withholding Tax slip (known as ‘Gensen ChoshuHyo’)
Usually only required if you have changed jobs within the last 3 months or if you are a student this is paying for the rent from your savings.
Basically your monthly pay slip or withholding tax slip that contains information such as your salary, bonuses, withheld tax, amounts paid for health insurance etc. This is information that would be required by estate agents/landlords so be sure to have this ready when looking for an apartment.
Extra things to prepare to make your life easier:
1. Company insurance card
A card that is usually received after joining a company. If you employed on a full time contract you would be automatically enrolled into the ‘shakai hoken’. For part timers you may have ‘kokumen hoken’ (national health insurance) instead. This card comes in handy for the rental process as it has information such as the name of the insurance provider, name of company you are employed by and join date. This card is not a must have for applying to rent property but it is something useful to have for identification (do be aware however, some places may require this card).
2. Certificate of residence (juminhyo)
Not always required but we advise you to ask whom you are in contact with in regards to renting a property if this is needed once you have been given the green light to rent a property.
This is a certificate that may not be readily at hand. To obtain your certificate of residence you would have to take another trip to your local city hall. Remember to bring your ID for this as you would have to show this also fill out a form to submit in order to get a juminhyo followed by a small fee (usually ranges between 200-500 yen depending on your city hall).
Tip : it can be a hit and miss in the waiting times at your local city hall, depending on how busy the day may be, we recommend going first thing in the morning to avoid long queues.
So there you have it, a brief guide on what you should prepare before renting your new home in Japan. Renting a place is almost like the beginning of a new chapter in life, the process of finding your new surroundings and place to make a home. At Homekuru we strive to make this process as seamless and easy as possible, modernizing the whole process and using our carefully designed rental platform as the best starting point for you!
We look forward to finding that perfect home for you.
Until next week…
The Homekuru editorial team.