Unfortunately, certain conditions make renting an apartment somewhat difficult for those who are not Japanese citizens. We will now explain the key issues and what foreigners can do to handle them.
Concerns about Foreigners Renting Property
The main difficulty faced by foreigners seeking a rental in Japan is the limited number of properties available. A majority of property owners are simply not willing to rent to foreigners or have requirements such as resident guarantor requirements.
Less than 30% of Japanese rental property owners are happy to form rental contracts with foreigners. This small percentage can mainly be attributed to property owner’s concerns that they will have difficulty communicating with a foreign tenant. Additionally, they may be worried that differences in culture and/or lifestyle could lead to problems. Even when applications to rent property in Japan are made through a real estate agent, they may not be accepted if a property owner prefers not to have foreign tenants.
Prior to recent years it was not easy for foreigners to rent apartments in Japan due to the scarcity of properties available. However, this is gradually changing, as Japan’s declining birth-rate forces the influx of foreign workers to make up the labour shortage. It is becoming easier for foreigners to rent a property in Japan as the demand grows.
Obligatory Rental Guarantor Required
Having successfully found a Japanese property owner willing to form a lease, a foreigner wishing to live in Japan still has some hurdles. One of these is the obligatory requirement for a guarantor to support the application which is requested by the majority of landlords. This requirement for joint surety applies to Japanese citizens, as well as foreigners who want to rent property. Many Japanese citizens are able to have a relative stand surety for them, or alternatively use a Japan rental guarantor company. Unfortunately, most foreigners will be unable to get a relative to act as guarantor and, at present, there are few rental guarantee companies offering this service in English.
The Rental Contract
A third problem for foreigners trying to rent property in Japan is the rental contract. Contracts often cannot be formed if the tenant cannot read and understand the rental contract. This problem can be resolved by designating a translator to prepare and explain the appropriate documents in English or Chinese.
At all stages of the process, it is advisable to use the services of a real estate agent who is experienced in handling the typical problems which arise for foreigners who want to rent in Japan.
Other Points for Foreigners to Consider
Living away from your home country can be a challenging yet rewarding experience as you are exposed to different cultures and ways of life. Making the effort to integrate with local people can make life easier and more comfortable.
It is always appreciated if you take time to introduce yourself to neighbours, the property custodian and/or property owner. Good communication and clear, careful explanations will ensure that any concerns are easily dealt with.