Looking to rent an apartment in Japan? If you have already started, you know how tough the process can be! Renting in Japan can be a complicated experience, especially for foreigners. Be prepared to wade through a lot of red tape!
One of the most confusing parts of renting in Japan is the need for a guarantor. What is a guarantor? How do I find one? Here we list all you need to know to about rental guarantors in Japan to secure the apartment you want.
What is Rental Guarantor?
A guarantor is a person who can cover the cost for you if you cannot pay your rent or damage fines. However, the recently revised Civil Code does allow a limited Guarantee Amount (the maximum amount the guarantor must pay).
Please note that a ‘guarantor’ and ‘joint guarantor’ have slightly different meanings. A guarantor may request the tenant to pay their unpaid rent. A joint guarantor (連帯保証人, or ‘rentai hoshounin’) is legally responsible if the tenant doesn’t pay for rent or damages.
In Japan, a co-signor or guarantor is called a ‘hoshonin’ (保証). As this person is agreeing to fulfil your financial debts, they must prove they have the financial means to pay. Most Japanese people ask a parent or close family member to be their guarantor.
Who can be a Rental Guarantor?
For foreigners who are new to Japan, finding a guarantor can be difficult. Many landlords or management companies have the following requirements for a guarantor:
- A Japanese national
- Someone who works full-time, with proven evidence of a stable income
- Someone under the age of 65
This is so they can ensure that the guarantor can pay and (hopefully) will not pass away before the rent is due!
So, what do you do if you can’t find such a person?
What if I can’t find a guarantor in Japan?
Luckily, you have a few options:
In some cases, your employer may be willing to be your guarantor. Try asking your company if they support corporate contracts. If you are relocating to Japan from a foreign country, your company should help you. A lot of international companies will help set you up in an apartment in Japan. If this is the case, they will probably sign a lease and be your co-signer. This is usually the case for ALT companies in Japan.
A guarantor company
A guarantor company, or ‘hoshonin-gaisha’, (保証人会社) will perform the same role as a personal guarantor in exchange for a fee. If you choose this option, be aware that a lot of housing agencies will require you to use their own recommended guarantor company.
The price of the fee can vary depending on the company. In some instances, it can be a one-off fee (10% – 100% of your rent) with an annual renewal fee. Please be sure to check your contract about future costs before you sign.
Do Guarantor companies in Japan speak English?
Setting up and getting settled into an apartment can be tricky if you don’t speak Japanese. But a few guarantor companies offer customer support in foreign languages. If you can choose your own guarantor company, here are a few options:
GTN (Global Trust Networks)
- The most popular guarantor company for foreigners.
- Provides customer service support in 10 languages (including Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Nepali, Vietnamese, and Portuguese.
- Offers English service support.
- You can pay rent with a credit card.
- The guarantor fee is the cost of one month’s rent for a one-year contract.
- Customer service available in Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese.
- No restrictions on the tenant’s age, nationality, or profession.
What do I need to use a guarantor company?
Securing a guarantor can be a lengthy process. To help speed it up, prepare the following documents ahead of time:
- Copy of your Passport
- Certificate of residence
- Proof of income (Employment certificate, income certificate, final tax return, or withholding slip)
- An up-to-date Residence Card
Do I need a Rental Guarantor in Japan?
A joint guarantor is required to lease an apartment under Japanese civil law. But if you really want to avoid to whole guarantor process, you can opt for shared housing instead.
Shared living in Japan is good for newcomers, as you meet new people and can support each other. It is also a great way to save money, as many shared house contracts don’t have the same expensive fees as leasing an apartment.
Leopalace and Sakura House both offer affordable shared housing. They have apartments in many locations, particularly in larger cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. Both have multi-language staff to help you if anything goes wrong!
Japan is slowly beginning to welcome more foreign residents. Hopefully in the future, Japan will begin to de-regulate the rental process for foreigners. Until then, we hope this article helps you get the right guarantor and right apartment to enjoy your life in Japan.