Common Rental Property Terms and Phrases – Japanese Vocabulary

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The property rental system is a whole new world of complex terminology in Japanese and so we hope this guide helps to introduce you to some of the basic vocabulary. Rather than scare you with a lot of the difficult jargon, here are some of the more common words and phrases to get you started.

Upfront Costs

The initial deposit for most rental properties in Japan is usually a costly exercise, around 2 to 3 times the rental price, with commercial property even more ludacris and 6 times and upwards. The main types of initial costs people usually face are:

  • 敷金 (しききん or Shikikin) – Deposit, which is usually an upfront payment of around 1-2 months rent, required in advance for leasing a property. This is generally refundable upon leaving the property, minus any cleaning and maintenance costs.
  • 礼金 (れいきん or Reikin) – Key Money, a gift or gratuity payment that has been traditionally given to the owner of the property for allowing you to lease or stay in their place. This can sometimes be the equivalent of a months rent, or even higher.

Ongoing Costs

The ongoing costs for rental properties in Japan usually consist of rent and a small maintenance fee depending on the building and contract:

  • 家賃 (やちん or Yachin) – meaning rent, this is the monthly expense that you typically would expect to pay for any property you lease.
  • 共益費 (きょうえきひ or Kyouekihi) – which is the additional maintenance fee that you may have to pay to your landlord to cover common area maintenance, repairs, garabarge removal, etc.

Of course, we strongly recommend you do not 家賃を溜める (Yachin wo tameru or let your rent fall into arrears), as you could incur a late fee or have problems with your agent/landlord.

Property Configurations

A typical property will look something similar to the following code:

  • 1 = number of rooms in the property
  • L = a separate lounge room
  • D = a separate dining room
  • K = a separate kitchen

For example, a simple studio property would usually be represented by ‘1R’ which a one-room apartment. However, let’s look at the follow larger property, which is a 3DLK configuration typical of larger families:

In the above example of a 3LDK place, the ‘3’ represents the number of bedrooms in the property, one of which is considered ‘Japanese style or tatami room’ (畳みの部屋 or tatami no heya). There is also a separate kitchen and living/dining room in the apartment, and this is represented by the ‘LDK’.

Other Property Related Terms

  • アパート (あぱーと or apaato) – is another word for apartment or unit.
  • マンション (まんしょん or Manshon) – similar to the word for ‘Mansion’ in English but not to be confused with the equivalent meaning. Instead, it refers to an apartment complex, building or condominium which usually houses a number of units.
  • 更新料 (こうしんりょ or Koshinryo) – means the renewal fee you may need to pay to your landlord to renew your lease, depending on the contract you initially signed with your agent.
  • 連帯保証人 (れんたいほしょうにん or Rentaihoshounin) – refers to the Japanese word for the joint guarantor, usually requiring a Japanese national to act as co-signer for a property.  This can sometimes be a requirement for foreign residents looking to lease a property.
  • 借りる (かりる or Kariru) – in terms of property means to rent or lease.

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