Guide to Renting Property
|The following section is designed to give you the
information necessary to:
- Choose the neighborhood that is right for you.
- Decide which type of housing best suits your needs.
- Work with your realtor to quickly locate and secure a quality property.
(Japanese English = Apato, Mansion)
Most urban Japanese reside in apartments. The size of the typical Japanese apartment decreased
to "rabbit hutch" proportions in the post-war development period. Fortunately,
many apartments were and are being developed to accommodate the taste and lifestyle of expatriate
residents. These include large living and dining rooms, spacious master bedrooms (children's
bedrooms may be on the small side); Western appliances; ample storage, and, in most cases,
parking. Apartments are available in any area of Tokyo. Apartments may be located in small,
intimate compounds of just a few units clustered around a central garden; mid-sized buildings
containing 10-30 units with and a common recreation area; or, the ultra-modern, mamouth high-rise
structures now dotting the Tokyo skyline.
Plaza Homes features apartments ranging in size from one-room studios of about 35 sq. meters
to four plus bedroom units of 300 sq. meters and more. In Japan "tsubo" or "jo" (tatami
mats) are used as a unit to show the size of land or a room. One tsubo corresponds to two
jo (two tatami mats), to 3.3 square meters and to 35.583 square feet.
Japanese English for an apartment containing two or more floors. May also refer to a loft-style
unit with an open second floor. These stylish units are popular with singles and young couples.
Although the Maisonette often offers efficient use of space and enhanced design value climate
control can sometimes be a problem. Your Plaza Homes agent will help you make sure that the
entire unit is properly air-conditioned.
Duplex properties are often spacious, may contain a yard and are appropriate for families
who do not mind living next door to their landlord. The greatest percentage of duplex units
can be found in the outer wards: Meguro and Setagaya.
Difficult to find in central Tokyo due to space limitations. The single family homes that
do exist in central areas are often cramped, old and pricey. The suburban areas of Meguro, Setagaya,
Yoyogi Uehara offer many more options: homes that are larger, newer and comparatively well-priced.
Your Plaza Homes agent has access to many quality properties in these areas. Most single-family
homes in Tokyo contain some semblance of a yard or garden but you should not envision your
Golden Retriever bounding across the yard to you. Houses offered in Tokyo are generally two
stories high, have three to four bedrooms, and may run between 120 sq. meters to nearly 400
sq. meters. The larger properties may include a maid's room.
Generally, a cluster of single-family homes, duplexes or four-plexes sharing common grounds
and recreational facilities. Usually enclosed, excellent for families with children and the
security conscious. Compounds are somewhat rare in Tokyo but your Plaza Homes agent can introduce
you to all of the best properties.
Many options are available ranging from "weekly economy mansions" to spacious,
fully-serviced executive grade residences. "Furnished" housing generally includes
basic furniture pieces, TV, VCR and internet connection, dishes, white goods and weekly cleaning.
Amenities such as front desk service, health club facilities and business centers, may also
be included. Furnished Housing has generally not been a cost-effective solution for long-term
residents. Availability varies per season and property, so your Plaza Homes agent may be able to arrange a special deal on one for you.
The vast majority of expatriate housing in Tokyo is "unfurnished". Unfurnished
expatriate housing generally include major appliances: stove, oven, refrigerator, washer/dryer,
dishwashers and air conditioning/heating. Some fixtures: blinds, curtains, or light fixtures, may also be included or may be negotiated
into your rent. Your Plaza Homes agent will assist you with the negotiation process.
with Your Realtor
Prior to meeting with your Plaza Homes agent, you and your family should sit down and define
your priorities. Create a 'wish list' and divide the features as those being; absolutely
necessary, or 'desirable.'
and Working With Your Real Estate Agent
- Determine your maximum acceptable commute: work and school
- Consider the relative advantages of living in central vs. somewhat outlying areas.
- Mimimum space requirement (tables and advice).
- Number of bedrooms (guest rooms, a maid's room)
- Do you plan to drive in Tokyo? One or two vehicles?
- If you are bringing your furniture, large pieces, a piano, etc., please consider the
space required for these items and and that some landlords may not accept pianos or waterbeds.
- Lifestyle, proximity to shopping and recreation, general enviroment.
- Will you be bringing a pet(s)? Please see (Bringing
a pet to Japan)
- Other preferences.
Real estate is a competative and highly-regulated industry in Japan
and the majority of real estate agents are well-trained and very
concientious. This support may entail handling
of maintenance issues, landlord/tenant disputes and a host of general
lifestyle concerns. Reputable companies such as Plaza Homes train
their agents to be highly responsive to your
needs, to provide un-biased answers to questions you may have about
a given property or neighborhood. You should feel confident that
your realtor wants to see you happy and content in your new
home - for the long term. His/her reputation and future livelihood
is heavily dependant upon customer
Your Lease Agreement
For most expatriate-grade properties the lease agreement will be drafted in Japanese and
English, with the Japanese version controlling. You should familiarize yourself with the
following lease terms:
Paid monthly in advance to the owner. A late fee may be exacted if rent is overdue.
Payment of first and next month's rent is generally required upon initation of the lease.
All properties in Japan require a deposit. The size of the deposit may vary from two-months
rent to four to six months for expatriate grade properties. The deposit is "technically" refundable.
In most cases, a portion of the deposit is deducted to pay for restoration of the property
when the tenant leaves. Restoration costs can be greatly miminized by careful maintenance
of the property.
Sometimes called "thank you" money. A sum generally equivalent to two-month's rent
and paid to the owner at the initation of the lease. It is not refundable.
Fee / Commission
Industry standard provides for one-month's rent to be paid to the real estate agent as commission.
A monthly fee for general building maintenance and, possibly to defer the cost of an on-site
Money to be paid to the owner when you would renew the lease contract on expiration of the
lease term of usually two years. The amount is in most cases equivalent to one month's rent.
and Steps Involved in Securing a Home
You should generally begin your home search at least two weeks before your desired move-in
date, although beginning one-week to six-weeks before allows ample time for owner to complete
any necessary renovations. It is difficult to secure a suitable property more than six weeks
before the move-in date, except where the property is currently under construction or, the
existing tenant will cooperate in its showing. You should plan on spending as least one day
to view properties, and up to a week if special needs are indicated. Once you have located
a property you are interested in the following schedule obtains:
Basically a document stating intent to contract a lease. (Applications are not legally binding
but they should not be submitted casually - let your Plaza Homes agent guide you in this
process.) Any requests related to the property must be submitted at this time and will be
considered by the owner. Requests typically include minor maintenance or renovation work,
the addition of various fixtures, cable or satellite TV. Once again, it is best to let your
agent guide you in making these requests as negotiability varies from property to property.
Usually within 48 hours. If "accepted"- move on to draft lease. If declined - continue
housing search. Note: Landlords may "accept" under certain conditions, meaning the
elimination or reduction of requests. Your Plaza Homes agent stand on your behalf in these
Generally prepared in Japanese and English. A copy will be sent to your corporate HR for
negotiation, review and approval. Your real estate agent will also review the lease
Once all parties agree, an 'Original' contract is made. There can be no further negotiation
at this stage. The original is taken to your company for execution, and all related fees become
due and payable before the lease start date. Japanese landlord's will never turn over a property
before receiving payment in full.
to move-in day:
Your Plaza Homes agent will see that all utilities, telephone and satellite or cable services
are arrangeed before you move in. Your agent will provide you with detailed information as
to your many options and inform you of any pertinent building policies. Please be very specific
about your needs in this area. Your real estate agent will also coordinate with your moving
company and the building manager to see that the move is smooth and trouble free.
Your agent will conduct a thorough inspection of your new property and will train you in
the use of all appliances and climate control systems.
For basic information about bringing a pet to Japan, please see.
ANIMAL QUARANTIE SERVICE
recently, the intent to keep a cat or dog, greatly reduced one's access to available
properties. Those landlords who did allows pets would invariably do so under limited
conditions and then would require that a special damage clause be attached to the housing
lease that holds the lessee liable for any and all pet related damage. Landlords may
also require that an additional deposit be advanced to cover the expense of sanitation
and restoration when the tenant vacates.
The good news is that many large corporate developers and property managers - and even
some private owners have recently relaxed pet restrictions and pet owners have a wide
variety of options, providing they are willing to compensate the owner for any damage
at the tail-end of the lease.
We recommend that you inform your Plaza Homes agent of your intention to keep a pet;
if you have a dog, please describe the breed and size. Your agent can direct you to
properties that are pet-friendly and assist with any additional clauses that may be
required in the lease agreement.
Care of Your New Home
Now that you have settled into your new home, we would like to give you a few tips on caring
for your property. These simple recommendations can significantly reduce damage claims when
you vacate. You may or may not be responsible for paying these claims (according to your
company policy), but a little care can ensure that claims are kept to a minimum.
Some allowance will be made for the natural aging of carpets, wallpaper and fixtures. However,
stains, scratches, holes, 'dings', and any matter of child or pet damage will require 'restoration'
at your or your company's expense. Your Japanese landlord will be most concerned about: holes
in walls or woodwork (defined as anything larger than a small tack mark); stains, marks or
abrasions on wall surfaces; stains to carpeting or mildew damage; scratches or abrasions
on counter services in kitchen and bathroom(s), damage to kitchen appliances, plumbing or A/C systems.
A little care can avert such damage.
Note: Your Plaza Homes agent will make a thorough inspection of your property just before
you move in and will note any pre-existing damage. This report will ensure that you are not
charged for someone else's damage when you vacate your property.
- Use picture hooks to hang small and medium-sized pictures. (Your Plaza Homes agent
will inform you where to buy these.) Large pictures may require picture rails for proper
support and you will need the owner's consent to install these.
- Use proper water drains under plants kept on carpets or window sills. Note, humidity
may develop under large planters and cause staining.
- Make sure you keep the drains on balconies and terraces open to prevent water from
backing into your home or apartment.
- Vacuum carpets regularly to prevent development of mildew stains (pay particular attention
to baseboards and inside closets).
- Use gentle scouring agents on stainless steel and ceramic surfaces in kitchen and bath.
- Do your best to restrict your children's use of magic markers, crayons and paints to
- Be careful that throw rugs and runners are colorfast. Rugs that may not have 'bled'
at home can do so in the Japanese climate.
- Please immediately report any plumbing, electrical or air/con malfunctions to your
property manager or landlord so that repairs can be made before serious damage results.