Q&A about renting and buying real estate in Japan and Fukuoka

Frequently Asked Questions


What is “key money” (reikin 礼金)?

Key money dates back in Japanese history to a time when fewer properties were available and to express the gratitude to the house or apartment owner when renting.

Two or three months of rent used to be standard, but in recent years competition has picked up and you can find places with 1 month or even no key money.

Apartments with no key money, however, often have some sort of minus points, like being older, near a train line, or with poor natural lighting. Key money is sometimes negotiable, too.

Also note that no key money is required for UR apartments, which are government-administrated housing.

What is “deposit money” (shikikin 敷金)?

This is probably not so different than what you have in your country. Deposit money is usually 1–2 months of rent. This is used to cover any damages and wear-and-tear that occur during your rental period. Often a standard cleaning fee is deducted from this when you move out.

Deductions are also taken for damage like torn or stained wallpaper, floor scratches, and holes in the wall. It’s commonly understood in Japan that a tenant should return the room to the owner in the same state as when it was rented.

Normal aging is expected, and that’s covered under the standard deduction for cleaning. You’ll receive any remaining balance.

If you smoke, have children, or have pets, keep this in mind.

What is a guarantor (hoshonin 保証人)? And what's a guarantor company (hoshonin-gaisha 保証人会社)?

Guarantors are normally required when people apply for a rental house in Japan. Japanese and non-Japanese alike have to have a guarantor, though Japanese more often can rely on a parent, relative, or employer.

The guarantor is responsible for paying the rent if the tenant disappears or cannot pay. And for damages, if the tenant fails to pay for them. (The guarantor technically shares the same responsibilities as the primary signer of the lease contract.)

The guarantor generally should be someone close to the tenant such as a family member or trusted friend.

Non-Japanese citizens often have trouble finding someone willing to take on this responsibility, so guarantor companies are an option for them.

A guarantor company usually costs 50%–100% of a month’s rent every year or two.

Note that even with guarantor company services, in Fukuoka you usually need to at least provide a local emergency contact who can speak Japanese. Feel free to discuss this with us. We’ll help as much as we can.

Also note that no guarantor is required for UR apartments, which are reliable and clean, government-administrated housing.

Are pets allowed?

It depends on the building. Many Japanese apartments are quite small and close together, so it’s not a good environment for an energetic animal, or for the neighbors. But there are pet-friendly buildings.

Let us know the type of pet (dog, cat, or any other) and its size in advance. We’ll find real estate where you can live happily with your furry or feathery friend.

Are there any furnished apartments?

While there are some serviced apartments in Fukuoka, they’re quite expensive, small, and you won’t get much choice on location. There are very few furnished apartments available for normal rent in Fukuoka.

If you don’t want to buy things like furniture and appliances, we can introduce you to a rental company. This service will supply what you need and then remove it when you move out.

Note that if you’re planning to stay more than a year or so, this can end up costing you a bit more, and with less selection.

Are there apartments with free internet service in Fukuoka?

A limited number of apartments do provide free Internet service, but it’s not a standard packaged feature. If free internet is a requirement for you, you won’t get many choices on location, size, style of building, that sort of thing.

By the way, as a general figure, apartment Internet service typically costs about $150 to set up and about $50 a month for high-speed fiber.

There are also lots of promotions when you start up your service. Alternatively, you can get a mobile Wi-Fi device or tether.

If I find an interesting apartment on the Internet, can you show it to me?

Please contact us and send the URL. Sometimes the apartments are already taken or they’re being used just to attract customers.

Some also may not accept non-Japanese renters, require a Japanese guarantor, or have other restrictions.

We’ll check anything you find and let you know its availability. Then we can meet you in a central area such as Hakata or Tenjin, and take you for a viewing.

How much is the agent fee?

For a standard rental property, the agency fee is 1 month’s rent plus consumption tax. However, if you rent a UR apartment, there’s no agency fee.

How long are rental contracts?

They’re usually 2 years. If you need to leave for any reason before your contract ends, you may have to pay a penalty (typically about 1 month’s rent).

There’s also typically a renewal fee at 2 years if you want to stay in the same place. Sometimes that’s negotiable.

What about utilities?

We’ll get you set up with gas, electricity, and water utilities. The monthly bills will be mailed to you and payable at any convenience store or by automatic deduction from your bank account.

As for things like mobile phones and Internet, feel free to ask us anything, but you’ll need to set these up yourself.

If you need English support, most major mobile and Internet providers have English customer service, so you won’t have much trouble.


Are there any restrictions on non-Japanese people buying real estate in Japan?

If you pay the full price in cash, there are essentially no restrictions. However, if you’ll be taking out a loan, that must be arranged with a Japanese bank. In that situation, you will need to have a certain level of visa status. We can look at your case individually.

What are the main fees and how much will it cost other than the actual price of the real estate?

Other fees total about 8% to 12% of the price of the property. This includes:

  • Stamp duty: 10,000+ yen based on the property price
  • Registration and license tax: Totals 1.5% of the land valuation amount issued by the local government and 2% of the building valuation amount issued by the local government.
  • Judicial scrivener compensation: approx. 100,000–150,000 yen approximately
  • Brokerage fee: (Property price × 3% + 60,000 yen) + consumption tax
  • Real estate acquisition tax: Total 1.5% of land valuation amount and 3% of building valuation amount. *When the property is a personal residence, this tax may be discounted.

Financing fees include:

  • Bank commission
  • Guarantee fee
  • Fire and earthquake insurance
  • Group credit life insurance
What are the main ongoing and regular fees after buying a property?

These will typically include:

  • Property tax: 1.4% of real estate valuation amount
  • City planning tax: 0.3% of real estate valuation amount
  • Monthly fee for common areas of apartment buildings
  • Monthly payment for reserve fund for apartment buildings repairs
Why do different agents promote the same properties?

This is because they are all using the database. This is a private database available only to license real estate agents. The same is true of rental properties.

This means that no matter how stylish the office or the agent, they’re not much different in what they can find. The difference is the quality of service.

As a foreigner, how much can I borrow from a bank to buy real estate in Japan?

This depends on your expected reliability to pay back the loan.

To know how much loan you can borrow to buy a real estate, you’ll need to submit proof of income for the past 6 months and/or tax certificates for the past 2 years.

If you’re a company employee, you’ll have to show 1 year of earnings.

You’ll also have to bring the property information sheet with you so the bank will evaluate the property. It helps bankers assess both your ability to pay the mortgage and the property value.

I have low/no Japanese ability. Can I still buy property?

If you’re paying in full, not much Japanese is needed. You real estate agent can help you with full support and translation. Some offer this service, others leave you to it.

When you’re applying for a mortgage, some banks require you to understand a certain amount of Japanese. Your agent can help you find an appropriate bank. Two of the better-known English-speaking banks are Shinsei Bank and the Prestia brand of Mitsui Sumitomo Bank (SMBC).

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