UR Rental Housing – Apartments Without Stupid Fees in Tokyo

Greg Lane

UR Housing is a public corporation that offers rental housing and accommodation in Tokyo and in cities all over Japan. The ‘UR’ stands for ‘Urban Renaissance’. While the cartel of real estate agents and property owners in Japan typically extort a range of fees from you for doing essentially nothing, UR housing charges no key money, no renewal fee and doesn’t require a guarantor. Additionally, they rent out their apartments regardless of nationality. For this reason, they’re also very popular.

Available Apartments

A search of the site reveals apartments within the 23 wards of Tokyo from as low as 49,000yen/month for a ‘1K’ apartment in Omori. For somewhere a little more central, there were listings for Sangenjaya from 60,000/month, Kachidoki from 79,000, 34,000 for Kita Aoyama (admittedly rather slum like), 53,000 in Shinjuku and 26,000 for a tiny 10 square metres in Shibuya. These  are all at the extreme – I room or IK sleeping boxes. UR has a big range of options in size, location and price. If you’d like a 335,000 2LDK in Hiroo, they’ve got that covered too.

So while there’s a range of locations and rents to suit your needs and budget, the best thing about UR is, as we’ve already mentioned, no stupid fees.

What are the costs?

Although there is no key money and no agency fees (these can sometimes amount to up to 4 months of rent), you still have to put some money down up front. You will still need to pay 1 month of rent in advance as well as a deposit of 1 to 3 months rent.  While private landlords will do everything they can to prevent you getting your deposit back (as if the free key money wasn’t enough) as long as you don’t trash your apartment, you’ll get the 1 to 3 months security deposit back at the end. Another anti-tenant custom – the contract renewal fee – is also absent from UR rental contracts.

How it Works

Although there is a web site for searching for apartments and it is possible to apply online, you’re best advised to go directly to a sales office so that they can guide you through the process. The larger offices are also more likely to have someone who can deal with non-Japanese speakers. Alternatively, there are agencies that offer assistance to English speakers. The good thing about this approach is that the agency fees are actually paid by UR Housing rather than the renter.

Further Reading

Check out our sister site REthink Tokyo for more articles and how-to guides for living in, moving to and buying real estate in Tokyo and Japan.

Name: Urban Renaissance (UR都市機構)
Location(s): Aoto, Hachioji, Hibarigaoka, Hikarigaoka, Jūjō, Kachidoki, Kamata, Kinshicho, Kitasenju, Kyodo, Machida, Mitaka, Nagayama, Odaiba, Oji, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Shinjuku, Tachikawa, Tama, Yaesu,
Web: http://www.ur-net.go.jp/sitemap/english.html
Business hours: The Sales Offices near big Stations are open 7 days a week. Smaller locations are closed on Wednesdays.

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24 Responses to “UR Rental Housing – Apartments Without Stupid Fees in Tokyo”

  1. NTI - Japanese Property March 22, 2013

    Not all property managers and owners are greedy “cartel” racist bloodsuckers. It’s a bit of a shame you feel the need to portray an entire population as such just to get your point across. We’ve been working with dozens property owners and agents for over three years now (mostly in Kyushu, to be honest), and only ran across one of these “thank you money” old-skool agents. While UR may be a great company, there’s no need to vilify just to make them look good. I’m sure if their services are good, they’ll have customers without having to resort to such dubious means of advertising.

    • CheapoGreg March 22, 2013

      Defensive much? That’s some rather creative inference to come up with ‘racist bloodsuckers’. I would love to hear from someone on the inside of the rental property industry about the value that tenants get from reikin, agency fees and security deposits that are kept to cover routine maintenance and upkeep.

      • NTI - Japanese Property March 24, 2013

        Not really defensive at all, to be honest, since we’re not property managers (or realtors, for that matter), have no contact with tenants whatsoever (we represent foreign investors) and have nothing against UR or any other tenancy management firm. To say that real estate agents and property owners are a “cartel” who “essentially do nothing” is a misrepresentation, if not an outright lie, sorry to press the point – the vast majority of realtors we work with are hard-working, little paid honest folk who do not deserve this labelling one bit. When we DID rent, however, for our own personal use, we got almost every cent of our security deposit back, and didn’t pay anything beyond. Again, Tokyo may be vastly different, wouldn’t know since we’ve never rented or done business there. If you would have replaced “in Japan” with “in Tokyo”, we wouldn’t have an issue (but an honest, hard-working realtor from Tokyo who doesn’t charge these fees might, I’m sure they exist).

        • CheapoGreg March 25, 2013

          I still don’t think cartel is such a bad description. A cartel means there is explicit agreement on controlling the market whereas there is most definitely an implicit agreement on controlling the market in Japan. It has been a buyer’s market for years but these anti-tenant traditions like key money and agency fees persist because the industry hangs on to them and consumers don’t have much choice – except for places like UR.
          So what value do tenants get from key money? In what other markets do tenants pay fees to the agent who is also getting money from the property owner? I too managed to get most of my deposit back when I moved out of my last place – probably for the same reason as you did. If you know your position under the law, you know that you don’t have to pay for cleaning fees or replacing tatami – but that won’t stop the agent from pressuring like crazy for you to agree to pay for them. Most people either give in or don’t know the law. I think the Japanese government knows this is a problem but as with so many other industries there are too many vested interests for this to change. The approach of starting UR is actually a typical approach to a problem like this and is definitely putting pressure on customs like key money.

          • NTI - Japanese Property March 25, 2013

            I actually agree with most of what you wrote in this latest reply (except for the “knowing the law” bit – we didn’t need to insist, and were never asked to pay, simply returned the place in good condition, and never heard a word of complaint – deposit was returned at once). I also haven’t got a problem with changing the face of the industry – in fact, I think it’s been changing for a while now, even before UR came along ;)) – albeit in a slow, Japanese pace, as most things in Japan do. its just the extreme choice of generalizing words in the original article that didn’t sit well with me – reality, as I find it, is not quite as extreme, at least out of Tokyo. Glad to read this more mellow version, it makes a lot more sense and creates far less resistance when you put it this way, and also allows for a more level-headed discussion. thank you for that.

          • The American September 14, 2014

            “The industry has been changing, even before UR came along”?

            You do realize the UR has been around since the 1950’s?

            I am sorry, but it hardly sounds like you are in the housing business in Japan. Even in Kyushu….

          • Sarah Cosentino April 19, 2013

            ” If you know your position under the law, you know that you don’t have to pay for cleaning fees or replacing tatami” – REALLY?! The funny part is that when visiting places, they showed me rusty and smelly tatamis, and told me that I would have to pay for renewal myself…EVEN!

        • Sarah Cosentino April 19, 2013

          I’ve been renting a normal apartment for years. Didn’t see any of my 2 months deposit fee back, and asked to pay one extra month every 2 years – contract renewal fee. In addition, had troubles to actually find the apartment itself, thanks to the “anti-gaijin” policies most housing agencies/owners have, although I can perfectly speak Japanese. Not talking even about the must-have “japanese guarantor” policy. That really sucks. UR has none of this bullshit, although you must prove your income in some ways – which comes a bit tricky when you are on a scholarship, for example.

        • The American September 14, 2014

          lolol They used “honest”, “hard-working”, and “realtor” in the same sentence!

          And if you think Kyushu=Tokyo, you have never been to Japan.

        • The American September 14, 2014

          The name “Tokyo” is used like 50 times in the article. I don’t see how you missed it?

    • CheapoGreg March 22, 2013

      By the way, have to address that last assertion there. I think you might have us confused with another site – we don’t do ‘advertorial’. We write about what we want and say what we want. We wrote about UR because we thought it might be useful.

    • The American September 14, 2014

      UR is not a company. Can you not read? UR is the government of Japan.

      And real estate agents all over the world are evil bastards. UR has to be fair and just. It’s the law.

  2. mrkirkland

    I don’t see how Greg is “vilifying” here.

    In Tokyo paying up to two months rent in key money plus one or two months rent in agency fees is still perfectly normal.

    • The American September 14, 2014

      I have never paid more than just deposit and first month’s pro-rate….

  3. The bird March 24, 2013

    Nice article. Could you post some info about the agencies that can help out with English assistance/service?

  4. hirohaha April 4, 2013

    I got one in Aobadai, just NEXT to the staion, 2DK for 61,500 yen. What a bargain!

    • hirohaha April 4, 2013

      I got the UR Aobadai danchi from a great agency who speaks excellent English!

  5. UR might have less fees but the buildings (at least in central Tokyo) tend to be ancient and/or tatty so you get what you pay for. If you want to rent a nice place in a popular area you usually have to pay the fees. Sad but true.

    • Sarah Cosentino April 19, 2013

      NOT true. Actually the ones in central Tokyo are rather the opposite, supernew (and superexpensive). Especially the ones in the Kachidoki/Toyosu area.

    • The American September 14, 2014

      Who cares if it’s old? If you can get a 3LDK for 40K, instead of a 1K for 200K? I never rent in anything built post 1980’s. Besides, in my country of origin(USA), most of our homes were built in like the 1800’s!

  6. Jun Tsutsui January 8, 2015

    Hello! My name is Jun and I am a real estate agent here in Japan. If you are tired of paying those ridiculous fees, call me @ 080-9382-0915 or email me at agentsutsui@gmail.com and I will help you find NO FEES JUST DEPOSIT apartments anywhere in Japan. By the way, UR is my specialty and I definitely recommend it to all my clients. It’s true that some buildings are old but there are lots of upscale buildings as well. If you want to go see one, just contact me. I hope to hear from all you apartment seekers.

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