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.

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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.

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