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The Ultimate Japanese Rental Terms Guide when Looking for an Apartment in Japan


Every country has its own real estate rules and as you make the big move to Japan you may think, how different can it be? The team at Homekuru knows how different it is, in comparison to renting in the UK for example, the process is much more complex and often causes frustration due to the many specific terms that the Japanese real estate market uses. We know the stress that people go through when finding a new home let alone in a foreign country, so the editorial team at Homekuru has come up with the ultimate guide to Japanese rental terms. Don’t worry, we have carefully selected the most important terms to avoid having our readers falling asleep at the screen!


To make this rental terms guide easy to refer back to and understand, we will simplify the terms and phrases into four categories.


1. Type of Housing

2. Fees

3. Types of Contract

4. Types of House Layouts


1. Type of Housing

When you hear the word ‘mansion’ one may think a large impressive house, but in Japan, it actually has a totally different meaning. Instead, the two main housing terms relates to the material a building is constructed by. Therefore making the decision on which type of housing to choose an important matter, in a country like Japan, earthquakes are of a regular occurrence.


Mansion ‘マンション’: Mansions are buildings constructed by steel, reinforced concrete or steel-reinforced concrete. Mansions are more resistant to earthquakes, making this type of housing more desirable and sought after even though it would be more expensive than an apaato.

Apaato ‘アパート’: The term sounding like ‘apartment’ is not to be mistaken with it’s English definition as this actually means buildings constructed of wood or light-gauge steel. Apartments are not as resistant to earthquakes and generally are cheaper than mansions.


2. The Fees

It’s easy to underestimate when renting in Japan how much money you may be paying initially. This is because of the overwhelming amount of fees that may occur. Intimidating at first but once you have a good idea of what fees can come up it is something that you will come to terms with in order to live in Japan. With the Homekuru platform, we aim to make sure that every property listed has a clear breakdown of what fees are involved.


Rent ‘家賃’ (pronounced ‘Yachin’): The monthly fixed rent price paid each month.


Deposit ‘敷金’ (pronounced ‘shikikin’): The initial deposit made to the landlord which may be used for settling unpaid rent or for recovery of damage to property during the rental term. Returned upon moving out of the property however, do check the terms on this condition in the rental contract.


Key money / Thank you money ‘礼金’ (pronounced ‘reikin’): An unreturned amount of money paid to the landlord upon signing the contract.


Management fee ‘管理費’ (pronounced ‘Kanrihi’): Fees for the common spaces in the building (e.g. stairs and elevators etc.) and for facilities that need maintenance, cleaning, and electricity.


Insurance fee ‘火災保険料’ (pronounced ‘kasaihokenryo’): Fire insurance for the property.


Guarantor fee ‘保証会社利用料’ (pronounced ‘hoshogaisha-riyou’): Fee to use a guarantor company to be your guarantor in Japan for signing a rental contract. Most foreigners who do not have family in Tokyo would be required by owners/management companies to use a guarantor company to be their guarantee.


The initial fees can be overwhelming but a tip from us is that key money can be negotiable, do speak to your estate agent to find out if negotiable or not with the owner themselves.

3. Types of Contract

So you have decided on which type of housing to go for and you have calculated all the fees that are involved. Next, you may be faced with looking at the various contract options and there are two main types of contracts in Japan’s housing rental system,


Regular lease ‘普通借家’ (pronounced ’futsuushakka’): A rental contract where the at the end of the term it is renewed automatically. This is the more preferable contract as it is more secure than the limited lease.


Limited lease ‘定期借家’ (pronounced ‘teikishakka’): A contract where once it ends, the tenant has to move out as it is not renewed automatically.


Depending on your situation and plans for living in Japan, it is recommended that you go with the contract that suits your needs the most.


4. Types of House Layouts

Last but not least, after understanding some of the most basic terms in renting housing in Japan, you finally start looking at different properties and then you come across a few ‘code names’ sounding phrases, fear not, we got you covered.


1R (one room): A one-room apartment, usually include an ensuite bathroom and a kitchen area in the room.


LDK (living, dining, kitchen): You will see the 3 letters ‘LDK’ often during your property hunt followed by a number before it, e.g. 1LDK, meaning, a one-room with living, dining and kitchen area.


It is recommended to not only interpret the description of the property but also the layout (diagrams of layouts are normally provided when viewing properties online). The Homekuru platform aims to show you what to expect from a property in a clear and transparent way.

In conclusion, the above rental terms guide is the basic must-know to understand the way of renting a home in Japan. If it is your first time moving to Japan we understand how stressful the process may be, so with our pocket guide, we hope it can put your mind at ease when you are faced with certain ambiguous situations.


Get started with finding your new home in Japan -

Until next time…

The Homekuru team

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© 2020, Homekuru, Co, Ltd. | Made with ♡ in Tokyo, Japan.

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