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Japan – Lease Agreements

Typical Lease Term in Japan

The typical lease term for renting property in Japan can vary, but there are common practices that tenants and landlords often follow:

  • Two-Year Lease: In Japan, it is common for rental agreements to have a two-year term. This offers stability for both tenants and landlords.
  • One-Year Lease: Some landlords may offer one-year leases, especially for properties in areas with high turnover, such as urban centers.
  • Short-Term Rentals: Short-term rentals with monthly or weekly terms are also available, but they are typically more expensive than long-term leases.

The specific lease term is usually outlined in the rental agreement, and tenants should carefully review and discuss the duration with the landlord before signing.

Difference Between Furnished and Unfurnished Rental Properties

The difference between furnished and unfurnished rental properties in Japan can significantly affect the rental experience:

  • Unfurnished Rental Properties: Unfurnished properties in Japan typically do not include furniture or major appliances. Tenants are responsible for furnishing the property themselves. Unfurnished rentals often have longer lease terms and are suitable for those seeking a more permanent residence.
  • Furnished Rental Properties: Furnished properties come equipped with furniture, appliances, and sometimes even kitchenware. These rentals are convenient for tenants who prefer a move-in-ready option. Furnished properties may have shorter lease terms, and the monthly rent can be higher due to the included furnishings.

Choosing between furnished and unfurnished properties should align with your needs, budget, and the duration of your stay in Japan. It’s crucial to clarify the level of furnishing with the landlord before signing the lease agreement.

Standard Clauses in Lease Agreements

Lease agreements in Japan typically include standard clauses that outline the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. While the specific terms can vary, common clauses found in Japanese lease agreements include:

  • Lease Duration: Specifies the initial lease term, which is often two years, and any provisions for renewal or extension.
  • Rent Payment: Details the monthly rent amount, due date, and the method of payment (e.g., bank transfer).
  • Security Deposit: Specifies the amount of the security deposit, its handling, and the conditions under which deductions may be made (e.g., for damages or unpaid rent).
  • Repairs and Maintenance: Outlines the responsibilities of both parties regarding property maintenance, repairs, and who bears the costs.
  • Notice Period: Specifies the notice period required by either party for lease termination or non-renewal.

These standard clauses are designed to ensure transparency and protect the interests of both landlords and tenants. It’s essential for tenants to carefully review these clauses before signing the agreement and seek legal advice if needed.


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Additional Clauses in Lease Agreements

Additional clauses in lease agreements in Japan may be included to address specific concerns or preferences of both parties. These additional clauses can cover various aspects, including:

  • Utilities: Clarifies which utilities (e.g., water, electricity, gas) are included in the rent and which are the tenant’s responsibility.
  • Pets: Addresses whether pets are allowed in the rental property and any associated rules or fees.
  • Subletting: Outlines whether subletting or hosting guests is permitted and any associated conditions.
  • Renovation and Alterations: Specifies whether tenants are allowed to make changes or improvements to the property and the approval process.

Additional clauses should adhere to Japanese rental laws and regulations and should be mutually agreed upon by both parties. It’s essential to discuss and document any additional clauses during the negotiation process.

Considerations When Signing a Lease Contract

Expats and newcomers signing a lease contract in Japan should be aware of several key considerations:

  • Tenant Rights and Responsibilities: Familiarize yourself with Japanese tenancy laws and regulations to understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.
  • Language Barrier: If you are not fluent in Japanese, consider having the lease agreement translated or seeking assistance from a bilingual individual or professional to ensure you fully understand its terms.
  • Key Money: Be aware of the practice of “key money” (reikin) in Japan, which is a non-refundable payment to the landlord. It is not legally required but is commonly requested by landlords.
  • Deposit Handling: Ensure that the handling of the security deposit complies with Japanese law, and request a detailed receipt.
  • Insurance: Consider obtaining renters’ insurance to protect your belongings and liability as a tenant.
  • Local Customs: Be aware of local customs and practices related to rental agreements in the specific region of Japan where you plan to rent.

It’s advisable to seek legal counsel or consult with a reputable letting agent to ensure that your lease contract is fair and legally sound, especially if you are not familiar with Japanese rental laws.

Condition Reports in Japan

Condition reports, known as “genjo kanri shomeisho” in Japanese, are common practice but not legally required in Japan. These reports document the condition of the property at the beginning of the tenancy and can help prevent disputes between landlords and tenants regarding damages or wear and tear.

While not mandatory, tenants and landlords often create and sign condition reports together, including photographs and written descriptions of the property’s condition upon move-in. This report is valuable when determining whether deductions should be made from the security deposit at the end of the tenancy.

Letting Agent Qualifications and Licensing

In Japan, letting agents are required to be licensed under the Real Estate Transaction Business Law. To qualify for a license, agents must pass an examination and meet certain educational requirements.

When selecting a letting agent in Japan, consider the following factors:

  • Licensing: Ensure that the letting agent is licensed under the Real Estate Transaction Business Law.
  • Experience: Inquire about the agent’s experience in the local rental market and their knowledge of Japanese tenancy laws.
  • Fees and Services: Understand the letting agent’s fees and the services they provide, including property management and tenant screening.

Reputable letting agents in Japan are members of the Japan Association for Real Estate Agents (JAREA), which is a professional organization that promotes ethical standards and best practices in the industry.

For further information, you can visit the Japan Association for Real Estate Agents (JAREA) website to find licensed letting agents and access valuable resources related to real estate transactions in Japan.


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