Generally, when renting a private apartment in Japan, people first consult with a real estate agent. The agents will introduce and show you apartments for free.

There are some unique Japanese customs involved in renting an apartment. If this is your first time renting an apartment in Japan, we recommend that you ask someone who speaks Japanese to accompany you to the real estate agency. When signing the contract, please fully understand the specifications of the apartment and the terms of the contract to avoid any troubles.

The International Support Center also offers support services with tenancy matters, so students, researchers and faculty members can complete the tenancy contract procedure with ease.

1. Joint Guarantor

When you rent an apartment in Japan, you generally need a joint guarantor. If you do not pay the rent by the due date, or if you break something in the room and do not pay for the repair, the landlord will ask the guarantor to pay them on your behalf.

In the case of Japanese students, their parents or relatives often act as joint guarantors, but recently it has become common to use guarantee services provided by private companies.

The Tohoku University International Students Support Association provides a system that the Association acts as a joint guarantor when international students rent a private apartment. If you wish to apply for this system, please be sure to consult with the staff in charge at your department at least one month before you move into the apartment. (This system is available for only international students.)

The International Support Center also provides support services for international students, researchers and faculty members in finding prospective rental units that accept rental guarantor companies in place of a joint guarantor. Please be advised that in general, rental guarantor companies would charge a one-off fee that ranges between 50%~100% of monthly rental with an annual renewal fee. If you decide to use the service of a rental guarantor company, please be sure to check your contract for details of any incurring costs before signing.

2. Costs Involved to Rent a House

Rent varies according to the location, the size of the apartment, its age, the extent of furnishing, In total, you will need to pay about 5 to 7 months’ rent before you can move in (see below).
The following table represents general costs you incur when renting private housing. Please note that all information is for your reference only, and the actual cost will vary depending on the district or landlord.

Security DepositAbout 3 months’ rentTo cover the cost in case of unpaid rent, and expenses for cleaning and repair fees upon moving out. The remaining balance may be refunded.
Key MoneyAbout 1-2 months’ rentGratuity paid for the right to use a property; usually nonrefundable.
Real Estate Agent’s FeeAbout 1 month’s rentPaid to the intermediary real estate company.
Rent1 month’s rentThe first month’s rent.
Rental Guarantor Company Fee*150% – 100% of a month’s rentOne-off fee to be paid to the rental guarantor company, with annual renewal fee.

*1 This is only for those who do not qualify for the international student rental joint guarantor system

Additional Cost after moving in (besides the monthly rent)

Common ChargeFee for maintenance and management of the shared parts of facilities at properties such as apartment buildings.
Utility ChargesFees for electricity, gas, water and telephone etc.

3. Areas and Price Ranges

Aoba-ku: Kunimi Area

The Sanjo-machi area contains a number of dorms for international students, such as Tohoku University International House (Sanjo 1 and 2), and University House Sanjo/Sanjo II/Sanjo III. This makes it easy for international students to meet one another. All campuses are accessible from here by bicycle. Also, as it is in a hilly area, rental prices are low compared with other parts of the city. Many international students live in this area. If you have children in preschool or elementary school who want to learn Japanese, the Kunimi Elementary School district is generally open to foreign children.

It is possible to commute to Kawauchi Campus for school/work by city bus (190 yen each way). Aobayama Campus can be reached by taking the city bus to a Tozai Line station, then transferring to the subway.

Aoba-ku: Hachiman, Kawauchi, Kashiwagi, and Katahira Areas

These areas are popular among international students who like cycling, as the ground is more level than in the Kunimi, Aobayama, and Yagiyama areas. However, although they are closer to the city and more convenient, the average rent is a little higher.

Taihaku-ku: Yagiyama Area

Apartments around the Yagiyama Zoological Park subway station are convenient for commuting to Aobayama and Kawauchi campuses for school/work. Except for places near the subway station, many apartments have relatively low rent compared with the Kunimi and Hachiman areas.

Reference: Average Rent for Each Area (as of January 2023)

Area Unfurnished Single Occupancy Units
Furnished Single Occupancy Units
Unfurnished Couple Units
Kawauchi / Aramaki-aza-aoba 51,000~64,000 65,000~70,000 *58,000~,70,000
Hachiman / Tsunogorou 61,000~63,000 *63,000~70,000 69,000~74,000
Kashiwagi / Kamisugi / Kimachi-doori 62,000~71,000 *71,000~80,000 82,000~100,500
Kunimi / Kitayama / Sanjo-machi 46,000~54,000 48,000~58,000 57,000~63,000
Yagiyama / Mukaiyama 50,000~55,000 *56,000~60,000 61,000~68,000
Katahira / City center 68,000~79,000 73,000~88,000 81,000~114,000
  • The number of rental properties with rent prices labelled with an asterisk(*) is quite scarce.
  • The rental prices indicated above are for properties that are less than 20 years old. Properties that are older than 20 years old generally have cheaper rental prices.
  • Although Sendai has many single-occupant units, the number of apartments suitable for couples or families is limited. Please note that you are required to declare the actual number of occupants who will be living in the same house, and that it is necessary to obtain the approval of the above from the landlord or real estate agency in advance. Sharing an apartment without permission is a violation of the lease.

4. Non-Japanese Friendly Agents and Apartments

The following are real estate agencies that can help you in English, international student dormitories operated by the private sector, and apartments available for both short-term and long-term stays. For more information, please contact each of them directly.

English-speaking real estate agencies

1. Tohoku University COOP

Tohoku University COOP Real Estate Division
Welfare Facilities, Kawauchi-Kita Campus
Tel: 022-262-1775
Fax: 022-262-1832
E-mail: apart@tohoku.u-coop.or.jp

Tohoku University COOP Campus Life Support Plaza
Tohoku University, Aobayama Campus, Aobayama Midori Welfare Facilities 2F
Phone: 022-721-5162
Fax: 022-262-9889

Accommodations Friendly for Non-Japanese Residents

Dormitories for International Students Operated by Private Sector

Guesthouses Available for Long-Term Stays

Private Apartments Mainly for Researchers/Share House

5. Seminar for International Students: Renting Apartments for Beginners

The International Support Center holds a seminar twice a year for international students who will rent an apartment in Japan for the first time. The date and time, and how to register will be announced from your department and on various websites.

You can also refer to the materials of the most recent seminar below.

6. Moving

When you are planning to move out of your apartment, you need to notify the landlord at least one to two months prior to your move-out date. Please be sure to contact the landlord by the deadline specified in the contract.

If you use Tohoku University’s joint guarantor system, you must complete the termination procedure at the administrative office of your department.

You can see the details on the steps to move out on the following page.

7. Support with Tenancy Matters

The International Support Center offers a wide range of assistance related to tenancy matters, and international students, researchers, and faculty members are all welcome to apply for this service free of charge.

8. References