Guide to Renovations and Reforms for Renters


In Japan it is the “financial obligation” of the lessee (renter) to restore the property to its original condition, not including any damages or deterioration caused by “Natural wear and tear” from living in the property (where the clause ‘with the exception of natural wear and tear’ is included in the contract.)

Please be sure to confirm with your company as to which portion, if any, of the renovation costs would be your own responsibility.  Please also note that the actual reform and repair work will be carried out by the Lessor (landlord) and not the Lessee.  Reform or any kind of repair work on the property by the Lessee is generally not allowed in most properties.

Conditions Listed in Apartment or House Contract:

In most cases you will always be charged for the following if noted in the contract itself.

  1. General cleaning – including cleaning of installed appliances and carpet. Please note that general cleaning will be conducted regardless of the condition of the property at the time of move out. General cleaning is conducted by the landlords preferred agent and generally costs around JPY 1000 – JPY 1200 per square meter for most properties.
  2. Changing the surface of tatami mats and replacing shoji paper screens.
  3. Removal/disposal fee for any personal items left in the property. Please note that most contracts will expressly state that the ‘Lessee shall not request the Lessor to purchase furnishings or facilities which the Lessee has installed in the Premises at its own expense’. Even if you have installed something that you believe adds value to the property, in most cases landlords will not wish to take responsibility for the item and if it is not removed before the move-out inspection, there will be a charge for its removal/disposal. *

* Also please note that if items are left in the property after the cancellation date, in many cases, according to the contract, the landlord is entitled to charge double the rent payable for each day the items remain in the property as a penalty.

Other Costs (due to actual damage on the property):

The following are what can often be charged to the Lessee due to various types of damage, regardless of whether its intentional, accidental or unknowingly.

Typical chargeable property damages include:

  1. Cigarette burns on carpet.
  2. Food stains on carpet.
  3. Mold on wallpaper caused by poor care (not wiping off condensation) and/or poor ventilation (not using ventilation fans).
  4. Mold on carpet (as above).
  5. Nail marks or nails and/or hooks remaining in the walls. Note: in many cases small three-pin nails may be used within reason and are considered normal wear and tear. In all cases, regular nail holes or larger holes will be considered damage. Please consult your contract and/or agent to confirm.
  6. Scratches and marks on the walls and/or wallpaper.
  7. Damages to fittings, wooden frames or paintwork.

Typical chargeable equipment damages include:

  1. Breakdown of air conditioner, washing machine, dryer etc caused by clogging of filters.
  2. Damage or loss of gas burner caps, grill handles, water-proof pans, remote controls, toilet paper holders and other miscellaneous small fittings.
  3. In the case where lighting was not pre-installed you will be charged for the removal of any light fittings remaining in the property after the move-out date.
  4. Remaining telephone wiring and/or telephone units that were not originally supplied.
  5. Missing or broken shelves.
  6. Damaged power or TV antenna outlets.
  7. Damage to door or window screens.
  8. Blown light bulbs.

Procedures for restoration:

  1. A move-out inspection will be conducted where all parties will attempt to confirm the condition of the property and to identify items needing to be restored.
  2. The restoration works will be performed by the lesser or a company designated by the lesser.
  3. The costs for such restoration will typically be deducted from the security deposit paid on entering the property. Naturally if the deposit is insufficient or non-existent, the lessee will be invoiced for such costs.

What you can do:

At the time of move-in, please file and keep in a safe place all documents relating to the original condition of the property including:

  • Key receipt list. In many cases these lists include the number of remote controls etc.
  • Property inspections sheet. It is important to note on the inspection sheet the condition of the floor and wall coverings, whether they are new or not.
  • Photos of the condition of the property at the time of move-in.

It is important to note that the property inspection sheet should be completed at the move-in inspection and signed by all parties present. A copy will also be left for you to complete and add any extra noteworthy items you find after moving in. The deadline for submission of this sheet will be clearly written on the sheet or explained to you by your Relo Japan consultant at the time of move in.

These documents will then be used at the move-out inspection in order to confirm any conflict in recollections.

Extent of renovations:

Please find below a guideline as to the extent of renovations. You should read this carefully and be aware of the ‘penalties’ for damage clause in the contract.

Floors – carpets, wooden floors, tiles:

Depending on the original condition of the above you may be responsible for the cost of redo-ing the entire room in the event of any serious damage. For this reason, please see to any carpet stains immediately and take steps to prevent scratches to wooden or tiled floors. If you are unsure of the best way to care for a wooden floor, ask the landlord or your Relo Japan consultant to recommend a suitable product – some wooden floors in Japan for example should not be waxed. We also advise you to pay particular attention to your movers, as this is the time most likely for accidents to happen.

Ceilings and Walls – wallpaper, skirting boards, window frames, tiles:

Again depending on the original condition and the type of damage you may be liable for the following:

  • Entire wall or side.
  • Entire room.

Partial replacement may be possible in some situations.

Fittings – Window screens, metal or wooden fittings, door frames, shelves, staircases:

  • The whole screen.
  • The whole item. In the event that a matching pattern to other items cannot be found, everything may need to be replaced.

In principle, the landlord should only charge for replacement or repairs to the particular item. However, extra costs will be incurred when the concerned items are difficult to obtain or are custom made.

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