Monday, November 05, 2012

Moving: Cancelling Rental Contracts in Japan

This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. Last post I signed on the new apartment. The contract will now be sent to my guarantor, and in the meantime I have a lot of other things to take care of:

Week 3, Thursday:
I'm ready to move into the new place, and deadlines are coming up for me to contact my current landlords to cancel the contracts on my old apartment and parking space. I'll take care of the parking space today.

Most rental contracts in Japan stipulate that you must inform your landlord either 30 days' or one full month in advance of intent to terminate the contract. (The difference in wording between "30 days" and "one full month" is a subtle but important difference, which we'll look at next post.)

As I've signed on the new place already and am expecting to have the key in hand within a few days, you might wonder about my timing here: Why wait so long to contact my old landlords?

If you take too much time to do
anything in Japan you'll be labeled
a マイペース ("my pace") person,
which is a terribly embarrassing
and dismally bad thing.
First of all, this move happened a lot more quickly than I'd anticipated when I started looking. When I looked at those first properties online, I imagined myself moving 2 or 3 months' in the future at the earliest. Furthermore, there was no deadline by which I had to move; I'd only know I'd need to be out of the old apartment once I'd decided on a new one.

While I could have arranged the move-in date at the new apartment to be several months in the future, I'd known since the beginning that I wanted to have some overlap time. I'd be working full time through the moving process, so I figured I'd want about two weeks during which I had access to both apartments so that I could take care of everything as I had time--moving belongings, figuring out utilities, filing address change notices with the city offices, etc.

However, the landlord at the new apartment insisted that they wanted the move-in date to come as soon as possible after the contract was signed. They wanted their income. I didn't want to start paying rent before I was ready to begin moving stuff. So we compromised: I'd agree to "move in" from the beginning of the month, in that I'd have all the documents together and signed, and in exchange the new landlord would only charge me half rent for that first month.

It was still going to be tight, but I knew if I worked hard I could make this happen.

With that background information in place:

Oh, Japan, where this is a
real estate decision.
Expect to sign contracts and
need letters of reference.
Today I head over to my first landlord's office--the landlord who manages my parking space. Their contract is simple: Inform of intent to move 30 days' in advance. (A polite way to say you want to cancel a contract: 解約の手続きをしたいです。) I tell them the day I want to move out, and they provide me a paper to sign.

I ask about the final rent payment, and receive happy news: The shikikin I paid on my parking space (yes, even parking spaces have shikikin) can be used to cover the final months' rent. This saves us both trouble: I don't have to make another payment by furikomi, and they don't have to send a refund to me after the contract expires. What a straightforward way to handle things.

(It's also welcome news because all that shikikin and reikin I just paid on the new apartment made a nice dent in my bank account balance.)

One more task down. Next up is the old apartment contract.

1 comment:

  1. I've been following your little series for a while now - reading each post during my lunch breaks but noticed you haven't been getting any comments. Just wanted to break that trend and say "Keep 'em coming" :)