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Update:November 9, 2018


When renting housing in Japan you may encounter peculiar business practices and living rules, so it is useful to read up on the following information in order avoid trouble. Please note that the information provided here applies to general renting in Sapporo, and individual contracts may differ in content.

Rental housing in Japan

Private rental housing

Private rental housing (chintai jutaku) refers to houses, apartments and other condominium units for rent. Most rent is prepaid every month. Some housing requires extra fees such as maintenance fees and common area fees in addition to rent, which are paid together with the rent. Those who wish to live in rental housing can find a place through a real estate agency (a business introducing houses and apartments).

Finding a place to live

  Go to a real-estate agency (fudosan-ya, an agency that introduces houses and apartments for rent) in the area you want to move to. Tell them your preferences, including size, limits on rent and distance from the nearest station, and they will present available properties that meet your requirements. You can begin just by taking a look at property ads posted at the front of the agency, or looking in magazines and online to search for average rent and properties currently offered in your area of interest.


When renting a house or apartment, you sign a lease contract called chintai keiyaku. Contract periods are usually for two years. When signing a lease contract, generally you will need to provide the following documents and payments. It is oftentimes required that you pay four to five months’ rent up front.


Necessary documents

- Resident Record (juminhyo), etc. of all those moving in (See page
- Proof of income
- Written pledge by cosigner
- Seal registration certificate (See page

-Personal identification documentation (passports, residence card, etc.)


- Rent for the current and following month(s)
- Deposit
- Key money
- Agent fees

- Fire insurance money, etc.

 ※ Things to check in the lease contract
Only sign the lease contract once you have a good understanding of its conent after having thoroughly read it and received explanation. Be sure to check the following points in order to avoid any problems.

  • Rent, management fees : Amount, payment date and method, etc.
  • Restrictions : No pets, etc. 
  • Contract renewal : renewal period, whether or renewal is possible, etc.
  • Upon contract termination : Fees associated with ending contract, etc.

  Public subsidized housing

These housing units are provided by the City of Sapporo, Hokkaido government or the Urban Rennaissance (UR) Agency. Applicants must meet certain criteria in order to move in. See the following webpages for information on the necessary criteria and vacancies.


City of Sapporo (city housing): Sapporo Housing Management Coporation
TEL 011-211-3381 (Japanese)
Hokkaido government (prefectural housing): Hokkaido Housing Management Corporation
TEL 011-205-5255 (Japanese)
UR Agency (UR rental housing): Hokkaido Housing Management Center
TEL 011-261-9277 (Japanese)

Moving in

Once you have chosen your housing and signed the lease, it is time to prepare for living in your new place.

Receiving a key

A key to your unit will be handed to you upon signing the lease. This key will be returned upon termination of the lease, so be sure not to lose it. Should you lose the key, you must contact your landlord or real estate agent immediately. Fees for replacement keys are to be borne by the tenant.

Application for electricity, gas, water

Be sure to apply for electricity, gas and water before moving in. Details on these procedures can be found here:

Acquiring daily necessities

In general, rental housing in Japan does not come equipped with basics such as furniture or curtains. Daily necessities such as furniture, appliances, bedding, kitchenware, toiletries must be provided by the tenant.

Greetings after moving in

In Japan, it is customary for new residents to greet their neighbors. It is important to acquaint yourself with nearby residents who may become an important information source on the area. Introduce yourself briefly by clarifying your name and occupation.

Resident registration (jumin toroku) and notification of change in address (jusho henko no todokede)

Register at the ward office of the area you move into. See page for details. 

General rules for daily life

How to dispose of garbage

Different kinds of garbage are collected on different days and times. Failure to respect the collection dates or times results in properly sorted garbage being left behind, which could cause problems with your neighbors. See page for details on putting out garbage.

Using the kitchen

Use the kitchen neatly. Do not dispose of solid waste or oil down the sink drain. Solid waste clogs the drain; oil contaminates the rivers and ocean. When disposing oil, use newspapers to absorb the oil, which can then be disposed of in burnable waste. Used oil can be disposed of for free at collection points (local facilities such as restaurants, super markets, fire bureaus, etc.).

Noise disturbance

Noises travel easily among neighbors living in shared housing, so take care to keep the noise down from night into early morning. Some examples of noise disturbance to be careful of include chatter from large parties, television, stereo, musical instruments, vacuum cleaners and washing machines, the sound of scampering children, door slamming and drawing late night baths.

Using the bathroom and toilet

It will be a lot of trouble if the water pipes in the bathroom or toilet get clogged and cause flooding. For instance, if the water causes damage to the room in the floor below, you may have to pay compensation damages. Make sure that hair and other materials do no enter the drainage pipes and the nothing is flushed down the toilet besides toilet paper.

How to use balconies

If the balcony is used for an emergency escape route, be careful not to block the exit with boxes and other items. Also, keep items off the walls or partitions separating the adjacent balconies. When hanging beddings and clothing outside to dry or growing potted plants, make sure they are not likely to fall off the balcony.

Using common spaces

In condominium buildings, halls, corridors and staircases outside your room are considered common spaces to be used by everyone. They will also serve as an emergency escape route in case of earthquake or fire, so do not leave your personal belongings there. 

Moving out

When moving out of your present residence for whatever reason, announce your termination of lease to your landlord within the period outlined in the terms of your contract. Be sure to notify your landlord of the move-out date as soon as it has been decided. Don’t forget to arrange to cancel your electricity, gas and water services, and be sure to leave the housing unit in clean condition with no garbage left inside.

Housing terminology


An apartment building; apartment buildings are sometimes classified as aparto or mansion based on their size or structure, but there is no clear definition between the two.


A unit of room size; usually equivalent to the area of one 1.6 m2 tatami mat (approx. 90 cm x 180 cm ), but can also refer to 170 cm x 85 cm or 176 cm x 88 cm size units.


“L” refers to a living room, “D” to a dining room and “K” to a kitchen area. 間取り例“LDK” is and apartment with a living room, dining room and kitchen. “2LDK” indicates that there are two rooms in addition to a living room, kitchen, and dining room. An apartmentates that there are two ro bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, etc. is expressed as “floor area: XX m2 ”.

Washitsu/Yoshitsu Washitsu decribes a Japanese style room with tatami flooring, whereas yoshitsu refers to a room with western flooring.
F/B (floor and basement) In Japan, the ground floor of a building is labeled as 1F and the first floor underground is階層の説明 B1.
1F – 5F: floors one through five
B1 – B2: basement floors one and two


Monthly rent payable; in some cases, the tenant must pay full rent for the first month even if he/she moves in partway through the month.


A security deposit given to the landlord by the tenant on moving in; the amount is generally equivalent to one or two months’ rent; although the deposit is given back to tenants in principle on moving out, it may be used to cover rent or repair charges in the case of non-payment of such fees.


“Gift” money paid to the landlord when moving in; not refunded when the contact ends.


Realtor’s commission; generally equivalent to one month’s rent.


Fees for management of the apartment building; paid along with monthly rent.

Kasai Hokenryo Fees paid to an insurance agency for subscribing to fire insurance. By subscribing to fire insurance, you will receive money for repairs and damaged goods in the event of a housefire or water leaks, etc. In nearly all cases, you will be required to sign up for insurance when signing a contract for a room. When recontracting for a room, please be sure to also update your fire insurance.

Kaiyaku (cancellation of contract)

Tenants must inform the landlord of the cancellation in advance (one or two months beforehand) in accordance with the terms of the contract.

Rentai Hoshounin (joint guarantor)

In general, a joint guarantor is required for contracts. There may be cases when you can ask a home loan financial guarantee company to act as your guarantor. Please consult your real estate for further details.