Dos and don’ts on leasing a home in Japan

By on October 1, 2009


Do your homework: Websites will give you a good idea of what may be on the market and sharing your findings with your agent will give him or her a good idea of what your requirements might be.  True, research is a large part of your agent’s job; however, you will want to maintain a healthy knowledge of the market yourself.  Moreover, your agent’s real task is much less FINDING it than it is GETTING it for you.


Work closely with your agent and let them know your requirements as specifically as possible.  Independent agents can often work with most properties on the market and specialize in tenant negotiations.


List your requirements clearly and prioritize them in order of preference before sharing this information thoroughly with your agent.  A well-informed agent who clearly understands your priorities can work for you much more efficiently, putting you closer to your new home more quickly.


Check the water pressure in the kitchen and the shower simply by turning it on for five to ten seconds. Sometimes this may not be applicable if the water service has not been turned on.


Check your neighborhood for future developments. Nearby abandoned buildings, empty lots and ongoing construction sites are a good place to start. Your agent should be of help you here.


View the property two or more times at different times (specifically, daytime and nighttime) to check for sunlight, privacy and noises from around the neighborhood, etc.



Working with multiple agents rarely produces the results expected and often leads to confusion and a lack of efficiency.  Reduce your selection of agents to one or two at most, and work closely with those you feel will produce the results you seek. The magical formula includes common-sense judgments like how you feel about the agent, or how well you think they might represent your best interests in a negotiation.


Key Money is not always a necessity when requested, and in many cases can be negotiated around or out of your lease entirely. Key Money is an entrenched custom and a majority of landlords still request it. Explore your various options with your agent.


Comparing Japan with markets in other countries may lead to false expectations regarding pricing and your ability to negotiate. Your agent will have an idea of how much leeway you have regarding negotiations.  Despite macro-market trends, each property is different and each landlord employs his or her own policies in managing various properties.


The writer is Tomoko Kasuya, Residential Leasing Manager, Platinum Ltd. since 2006 Tomoko is a 2005 graduate of University of Arkansas, Little Rock.

About Kevyn Johnson