Greedy Japanese Landlords

Everybody has, I’m sure, heard of how painful it is to rent an apartment in Tokyo.
If you or anybody you know has ever looked for a place to live in Tokyo, then you know all about the race prejudice, the vertiginous deposits, ludicrous requirements, real estate agent mandatory commission and above all the two or three months gift money to the landlord, for the privilege of moving into their slum.

If you needed any more proof, here is one:

Not only will you have to pay gift money upon moving in, upon renewing the contract (every one or two years) or basically whenever you change the contract. Not only are you unlikely to see more than half, at most, of your two months deposit back (it’s customary to redo the entire place new on your deposit, no matter how pristine you leave it), but to top it all: changing your guarantor is also gonna cost you a month gift money.

You heard me right, the mere action of changing the name of one of the two persons who will be held legally liable in case of problem with your tenancy requires you to pay a full extra freaking month of rent. This is basically paying for the privilege of providing yet another level of safety to your paranoid landlord.

I’m sure it was in the contract too, my bad for not completely reading 30 pages of legalese written in tiny obsolete kanjis. Then again, the moronic real estate agent also assured me over the phone that the change was free.

If not for the other guarantor, who is my friend and probably would get in some trouble because of that, I’d be very tempted to give my landlord a hard time over that one. This is how pissed off I am at being permanently taken for a money-distributing dunce.

How the average Japanese people put up with these preposterous rules, now that the 80’s real estate boom has all but flatly crashed in the ground, is beyond me…


  1. I’m hardly the ideal person to answer this (I have never even considered buying property… here or anywhere else)… But I’d venture an answer somewhat in the positive.
    Market is definitely around its lowest (can hardly get any lower), and there are lots of people desperate to sell. It also sounds like, compared to rental, ownership is an infinitely better deal…
    As for the details, I really couldn’t say: not sure how easy it is for a foreigner etc. Mayumi just bought a new place: she would know better than I about the difficulties of becoming an owner in Tokyo…

  2. Ouch. My thoughts on living in Tokyo for some time after graduating from high school (I live in Aichi Prefecture, about a half hour from Nagoya by train, right now) teaching English…have changed somewhat.

  3. That is pretty jacked up. I’m glad it’s not that way here in the states. That would be horrific and unheard of. Is that how all of the japanese earn money or is that just how the greedy landlords do it 😛

  4. It’s not the landlords guys…they don’t see the “gift money” or the renewal money either. It’s the real estate agents that actually get this money, and traditionally 9% of the rent is paid to them from the landlord as well.

    Talk about a lot of money for very little work…

  5. Brian: nope. Unless they have a very special deal quite unheard of. Real estate agents do get commissions (it was one extra month upon moving in, for us, which is quite the standard fare). I believe they even get commissions on the contract renewal (not sure how much). But the key money is definitely going to the landlord (in our case). Most of the time, provided you are not a dirty gaijin that is, key money is all but negotiable. In that case, negotiations will be done with the landlord, with the real estate agent only acting as a middleman.

    All in all, everybody gets to pocket quite a lot of cash there…

  6. Dave, Actually they do. They tell you that the landlord gets it but they don’t. The agent even gets the first month’s rent as well. I know this as I took a course here in Japanese about 3 weeks ago on personal finance and investing. Believe me, I was as shocked as anyone when I learned this, but those indeed the facts. This course focused on property as an investment and the associated fees.

  7. I know how you feel. My girlfriend in Japan has just entered into a rent contract and she told me about this ‘gift’ money.
    Luckily she found a landlord which didn’t ask for it. It restored my faith in mankind.
    Japan doesn’t cease to disgust me. As I said to my girlfriend – Japanese have a strong sense of nationalism while at the same time kicking their fellowman in the guts, for the sake of money and business.
    Self-centredness is what it is.
    Consequently my girlfriend is hoping to move to Australia where the men are better.

Leave a Reply