real estate

Renting in Japan: How to keep costs down

If you want to keep costs down when renting an apartment in Japan, you should have look at the most important tips for it – they are listed in this article. We have summarized what kind of costs will arise when you sign a contract with a real estate agency, and how to lower the price through negotiation.

Renting in Japan: How to keep costs down

Firstly, here is the cost overview. These points are usually required when you sign an apartment rental contract in Japan. For your convenience we colored every point to show if it is possible to negotiate its amount.

  1. Rent
  2. Condo fees
  3. Deposit
  4. Key money
  5. Commission fee
  6. Subscription fee for guarantor company
  7. Fire insurance
  8. House cleaning fee
  9. Key exchange fee
  10. Fee for the pest control & apartment disinfection
  11. Others

Red: You can/should negotiate lower price.
Orange: You can try to negotiate, but can’t expect a big discount.
Black: Difficult to negotiate.

Now you know the basic information, so let’s overview every point.


Landlord usually inflates the rent in many cases and establishes it as a basic price. This amount from the beginning is based on the assumption that the discount will be negotiated. An appropriate size of the discount is usually 10% of the rent. For example:

  1. Rent > 70.000 JPY: Ask discount of 5.000 JPY
  2. Rent < 70.000 JPY: Ask discount of 3.000 JPY

After all, everything depends on the landlord, but if you don’t try, you will never get a discount.

Condo fees

These are maintenance fees of the condo, and they are non-negotiable.

Deposit/Key money

Both costs can be negotiated, but especially key money. This is just a custom that has existed for a long time, but today is almost meaningless. Earlier, tenants paid key money to the landlord as an expression of gratitude for allowing to live in an apartment with him. However, nowadays it’s completely different.

Commission fee

You have big chances to lower the commission fee costs greatly, possibly even to zero, because real estate agent gets a commission fee from the landlord as well.

Subscription fee for guarantor company

If you want to rent an apartment in Japan, a guarantor is normally required. A guarantor is usually a person who lives in Japan – however, it can be hard to find a person who can sign for you if you are new in Japan. In such situation a guarantor company will do it for you. The usual guarantor cost would be about 50% of the rent, which can’t be deducted, but the real estate agency sometimes inflates it in order to increase their margin. The added amount can be negotiated.

Here are two guarantor companies in Japan, where employees speak English.

CREDENCE (Website only JPN)

Fire insurance

Real estate agency might recommend you an expensive fire insurance, so you can say that you will take care of it on your own. However, this payment won’t make a big difference, so you don’t have to negotiate so hard.

Cleaning fee

This only includes cleaning without renovation. If you don’t need it, you could ask not to include it. The most important point you should be aware of is that you don’t have to pay the fee twice, when moving in and when moving out. You have to pay it only once – whether before moving in or after moving out.

Key exchange fee

If the key exchange fee is around 20.000 – 30.000 JPY, you can do it by yourself, which will cost only about 10.000 JPY.

Fee for the pest control & apartment disinfection

We strongly recommend deducting these fees. They are created to increase the agency’s profit and are absolutely unnecessary. Pest control and disinfection won’t be done by a professional but by the agency, and their work is well-known as very rough.


Something like residents fee or 24h agency support may be also included, but the amount will be small, so it is up to you if you want to put your efforts into negotiation.


The decision point is whether the cost is mandatory or optional. If the landlord says it is mandatory, it may be difficult for the agent to ask the landlord for discount or deduction, but optional costs can be negotiated to keep costs down. However, be careful with the agency trying to jack up their profit with costs that are not necessary for you and the landlord.

Additional tips

free rent

If your negotiation for all the points listed above fails, ask your agent to negotiate a free rent, which means that you won’t be charged for the first month.

Yuki Nagahori
BA in German / Japan Country Manager at editorial company → Sales → currently sales planner based in Hamburg, Germany