real estate

5 Best Tips for “Moving in” in Japan

Real estate conditions, habits and rules vary greatly from country to country. Because of that, we decided to make a list of 5 things you should definitely know before renting an apartment in Japan. There are some rules and fees that are not common in other countries, which can be troubling for you or which can make you pay too much for something unnecessary.

5 best tips for “moving in” in Japan

Key money from the landlord(礼金)

Besides deposit, in Japan you have to pay so called “key money (礼金:れいきん)” to your new landlord. This payment is an expression of gratitude for being allowed to rent the apartment. This habit appeared just before World War II – at that time landlords couldn’t increase the rent due to the law, so they gathered the corresponding amount in advance.

The market price for the key money is one to two month’s rent. It is quite a big amount for an additional payment, because you also need to pay the deposit and service fee for the agency. If you are lucky, you could find an apartment without it, but the other option is to look for a serviced apartment where the key money isn’t required.

Renewal fee(更新料)

The lease term is generally 2 years, and every time when you renew your contract for the apartment, you have to pay a certain fee to your landlord (更新料:こうしんりょう). Since the price is not legally regulated, it depends on the area. Generally, the following fees need to be usually paid with the renewal of the contract:

  1. Renewal fee: one month’s rent (to landlord);
  2. Service fee: half month’s rent (to intermediary real estate agent);
  3. Fire insurance renewal fee: 20k – 200k JPY (to insurance company) – fire insurance term is usually also 2 years.

Cleaning fee(クリーニング料)

In Japan , cleaning and restoration costs will be deducted from the deposit (敷金:しききん) after you move out and the rest will be returned. In some cases, you may be charged for the shortfall. But be careful, if you are asked to pay it twice – when you move in and when you move out – it is a fraud. If you don’t want to pay more than you have to and want to avoid such a cheat, check this document (PDF) that summarized the precedents announced by the government.

Be aware of automatic renewal

As long as you don’t cancel the contract, it will be automatically renewed. In such situation you will have to cover the renewal fee. The cancellation period can be 1 to 3 months – check your contract in advance to be sure.

Greet neighbors after move in

After moving in you have to meet the other residents who live next to your apartment and underneath.


You don’t have to give any gifts – just say hello and tell that you just moved in and you are not used to live in Japan. Thanks to that, they might help if you get into trouble.

How to avoid such complications

Key money, fire insurance, renewal fee… All these procedures are very annoying, but also very difficult to deal with if you don’t speak Japanese well. If you want to avoid such complications, we would like to propose a simple solution – serviced apartment. Yes, it is more expensive than a normal, non-serviced apartment, but it will save you a lot of time and energy. Please look at our previous article if you want to know more about it.

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