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.

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.)

2. Renting Costs

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.

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 and other. 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 pre-school 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 April 2022)

AreaAverage Rent (in Yen)
Katahira Area/City Center50,000
  • The above amounts are for single-occupant housing. Two-occupant or family housing may be more than double the above amounts.
  • This is because although Sendai has many single-occupant units, the number of apartments suitable for cohabitation is limited. Also, when cohabiting it is necessary to get permission 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 followings 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 in the following page.

7. References

Useful Resources