Top 3 Insider Tips for Getting Your Apartment Application in Japan Approved

The busy season for renting an apartment in Japan starts in January and ends around the end of of March. If you’re applying for an apartment in the next three months, you will be competing with a lot of other people (both Japanese and foreign nationals) who are trying to find a new home before they start a new job or academic year.

In the busy season it is very common for a property to receive applications from multiple applicants within days of becoming available.

How do you make sure your application gets a fair shot? Real Estate Japan recently conducted an interview with our colleagues at the GaijinPot Housing Service to get their advice. When you apply for an apartment through the GaijinPot Housing Service, the Housing Service will review your application, and along with the property manager or landlord, will decide whether to approve you. In other words, they have a lot of insider knowledge on the ins-and-outs of what property managers and landlords are looking for.

Here is their advice for how to make sure your application is evaluated in the best possible light.

#1 Submit all required documents with your application

A lot of people do not realize what documents they need to move forward with an application. While your passport is a given, you also need a copy of either your certificate of eligibility, visa, or residence card.” — GaijinPot Housing Service Staff

In addition to the actual application form, you also need to provide the following supporting documentation:

  1. Copies of your passport and Residence Card
    1. You will be asked to supply a passport and Residence Card for each person who will be occupying the apartment.
    2. If you don’t yet have a Residence Card, you need to provide a copy of your Certificate of Eligibility or Visa.
  2. Copies of financial documents for proof of income
    1. To prove that you will be able to pay the move-in costs and monthly rent.
    2. A recent bank statement
      1. This can be a screenshot of your online bank statement (taken within the last week) or a copy of your deposit book.
      2. If you are applying for a regular rental apartment through a Japanese real estate agent, the bank statement must come from a domestic Japanese bank.
      3. If you are applying through the GaijinPot Housing Service, you can submit a bank statement from your bank account in your home country. This is a big plus of using the GaijinPot Housing Service!
      4. You may also be asked to submit:
        1. Copies of two or three recent pay stubs
        2. A copy of your annual tax withholding slip (gensen choushuu hyou, 源泉徴収票).

Many applications are held up because of incomplete documentation. When this happens, the property manager or landlord will place your application on hold and move on to the next application in line.

#2 It doesn’t help to submit a rental application until you can prove that you can legally reside in Japan

If you have not at the very least received the certificate of eligibility yet, it is best to wait until then to inquire.” — GaijinPot Housing Service Staff

It’s a big deal to move to another country, and it’s especially stressful trying to make sure you have a place to live so you can start your new life.

But the powers-that-be will not review your application until you’ve submitted all of your paperwork. As discussed in Tip #1 above, you need two forms of proof of identity/proof of legal residence, one of which is your passport. The other can be a Residence Card, visa, or certificate of eligibility.

When you try to submit an application early (without a visa or even a certificate of eligibility), your application will be rejected for lack of sufficient documentation. In short, it’s best to wait until you are actually qualified before you try to apply for an apartment.

#3 Be able to prove that you can pay for the apartment you want

If you’re planning on a long term stay in an apartment, you should expect 3-6 month’s worth of move in fees.” — GaijinPot Housing Service Staff

Move-in costs for a long-term rental apartment are extremely high compared to other countries.

Typical Move-In Costs for a Long-Term Rental Apartment in Japan

  • First month’s rent: 1 month’s rent
  • Deposit: 1 to 2 months’ rent
  • Key money: 1 month’s rent
  • Agent’s commission: 1 month’s rent + tax
  • Guarantor company fee: 1 month’s rent + tax
  • Property maintenance fee: Varies. Typically ¥3,000 to ¥5,000 but can be higher.
  • Renters/Fire insurance: ¥20,000 (for a two-year policy)
  • Lock exchange fee: ¥12,000

This means you will typically need between three and six months’ rent ready in order to move-in to your new apartment. Most property managers and landlords in Japan require that you pay these costs in cash.

One big advantage of using the GaijinPot Housing Service is that you can pay your move-in costs and monthly rent with a credit card.

The people reviewing your application will also check to make sure that you have sufficient income to cover the rent. In general, your rent should equal about 30% to 40% of your income. Make sure you are looking in the appropriate price range to avoid having your application being rejected for this reason.

GaijinPot Housing Service

The GaijinPot Housing Service was set up to help foreigners overcome many of the obstacles to renting an apartment in Japan. With this service:

  • You can apply from overseas.
  • Don’t have to speak or read Japanese.
    • You will get full bilingual support throughout the application process and post move-in support, including help with setting up utilities and any problems you have while living in the apartment.
  • Don’t need a guarantor.
    • Even for most Japanese tenants, you are often required to sign up with a guarantor or get a personal contact to serve as a guarantor for you. This can be next to impossible for a lot of foreigners. In certain cases, such as if you are a student, you will likely need to have a parent or other family member co-sign for you, but they can do this easily from overseas.
  • Can pay for everything with a credit card.
    • You do not need to have a Japanese bank account, which is usually a requirement to rent an apartment in Japan.
  • Get complimentary renters insurance.
  • Will not be rejected for an application because of your nationality.

Learn more about the service here: GaijinPot Housing Service

Lead photo: iStock stock photo