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2 Phrases You Have to Know to Rent a Room in Japan

Hi, foreigners looking for a room to rent in Japan. Are you finding it hard to rent a place? We are here to help you out and start a comfortable life in Japan!

Let us start by taking a closer look at “Security Deposit (Shiki-kin)” and “Key Money (Rei-kin)”, which are among the essential factors in Japanese rental housing.

What are Shiki-kin and Rei-kin??

Security deposit (Shiki-kin) and Key money (Rei-kin) are both parts of the initial cost when renting a place in Japan. Security deposit (Shiki-kin) is money for collateral purposes deposited to the landlord. This amount deposited will be returned to you in full when you leave the rented place provided there are no unpaid rents, damages, or severe uncleanness.

On the other hand, key money (Rei-kin) is a tip to the landlord, an honorarium with a feeling of gratitude for lending to you a place to live. This amount is generally specified, and the standard amount is one to two months’ worth of rent. The key money (Rei-kin) is a customary action, and it is not a cost determined by law; therefore, it is possible to reduce the price by negotiation. We advise you to negotiate with the real estate company as much as you can.

The initial cost of renting a place in Japan is a bit costly. There is a security deposit, which costs about one month’s worth of rent, the key money worth one month’s rent, and a commission of one month’s rent. Let us not forget the actual rent. A decent room costs about 60,000 yen, excluding utility fees and the common area charges of about 5,000 yen per month.

The estimated initial cost details for renting an apartment is shown below.

Item Detail Amount
Rent 2 months’ rent ¥120,000-
Security Deposit 1 month’s rent ¥60,000-
Key Money 1 month’s rent ¥60,000-
Commission 1 month’s rent ¥60,000-
Key Change Fee 1 time ¥10,000-
Common Area charges 2 months’ rent ¥10,000-
Total ¥320,000-

※Other additional charges such as fire insurance may apply.

From the above, we have seen that the initial cost of renting a place in Japan is estimated to be ¥320,000.  It will cost approximately ¥65,000 plus utilities every month from the following month. Please note that this estimate serves only as a reference. Since the initial cost will change based on the rent, please check with the real estate company about the moving cost, monthly cost, and the cost returned when you move out, and recalculate the above as necessary.

*Kanto, Kansai, and Kyushu area have a different notion regarding security deposit and key money. Also, some properties have a special contract called “Shiki-biki” where the security deposit is not returned in full.

It is worth noting that nowadays, there are commission-free companies, so inquire about the commission fee from the real estate company, too.

Also, some properties called Zero property do not take “Security Deposit (Shiki-kin)” nor “Key Money (Rei-kin)”. This is common in old properties, where the landlord wants to acquire residents and reduce the number of vacant rooms. However, since the security deposit, which is collateral, will be zero, there will be some conditions attached, such as joining a guarantee company and the collection of a renovation fee when moving out. There are other disadvantages to these properties, such as the fact that most of them are located far from the station and have poor transportation convenience. Also, the rent may be higher than the surrounding market, making the overall expense for each month more expensive. Nonetheless, it is a great advantage that initial costs can be kept low.

Please do well to weigh the merits and demerits and find a property that suits you the best!

Notes for the readers:
Please use this article only as a reference, not as a legal guideline. Therefore, will take no responsibility or liability, so far as legally possible, for any consequences of your actions. This article was written on 25 July 2020.

This article is contributed to SUGEE Magazine by Marina Matsuyama then translated by SUGEE.

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