As cultures, time zones, languages and cuisines shift, it should only be expected that the processes for renting housing will also change. Except for the ranging prices for better locations and scenery, the renting system in Japan is vastly different from that of the U.S. or Europe. While the tradeoff means some extra upfront costs, the renting system is designed to favor the tenants, rather than the landlord. Here is a look at the differences to expect when renting in Tokyo, Japan.

Hiring Help. In the U.S., many renters spend hours determining which real estate agent is the best agent to use. In Tokyo, however, agents are easily found as the majority are independent operations utilizing a common database and can be easily found in all locations.

Viewing Property. In Japan, there is a strict law on property viewing: occupied property is prohibited under the terms of rental contracts. Agents must wait until the tenant has moved out and the apartment has been cleaned before a viewing can be arranged.

Costs. As previously noted, renting in Tokyo comes with a few extra fees that allow for a tenant-focused lease. Renters should expect to pay one months rent, a deposit (usually one month’s rent), maintenance fees (10% of monthly rent), key money, a guarantee (usually required for foreigners by landlords), and a brokerage fee (paid to the estate agent). Unlike in the U.S., even if tenants keep the home in perfect condition, about only half of the deposit will be returned. The rest of the funds go to cleaning and lock changes.

Moving In. If unaware of this fact, new tenants would be shocked to find the unit empty– meaning no refrigerator, no air conditioning or even lighting. These items can rack up the costs, so it is essential to plan for apartment furnishing.

Contracts. Documentation in Tokyo is far more organized and involved than in the U.S. Tenants are expected to sign a couple of dozen pages outlining the details of tenants rights and landlord rights, as well as anticipated costs of any violations. However, the upside to this documentation is that tenants can then live in their new home without further landlord hassle; in fact, the process is exceptionally formal and is handled by estate management companies. Unlike the U.S., two-year contracts are the renting standard in Tokyo, although Tenants have the choice of leaving earlier (provided they give the contractual notice period).

About Ephraim Vashovsky