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Finding Pet-Friendly Apartments in Japan: Honesty is the Best Policy

Be a responsible pet owner in Japan by choosing pet-friendly apartments, ensuring a happy home for you and your furry friend while respecting the rules and saving money and headaches.

By 5 min read 1

For animal lovers, finding a pet-friendly apartment in Japan isn’t easy. Anyone searching for an apartment will find their options go from practically hundreds to pretty limited once you click the “pet-friendly” checkbox on a search filter.

With limited housing options that allow pets, some people might be tempted to consider sneaking their beloved companions into non-pet-friendly apartments. However, bypassing rental contracts and hiding a pet can lead to problems with your landlord and neighbors, expensive fees and even evictions.

Let’s explore the risks and consequences of sneaking a pet into a non-pet-friendly apartment in Japan and alternative solutions for pet lovers.

Why Are There So Few Pet-Friendly Apartments?

How can they say no to to that face?

The reason for so few pet-friendly apartments in Japan is due to several factors, such as:

  • Property Damage/ Cleanliness: Landlords hesitate to allow pets due to potential damage and odors.
  • Limited Space: 90% of Japan’s population is densely packed in urban centers. Thus, there is barely space for one person in an apartment, let alone them, plus a pet.
  • Noise: Your walls could be very thin, and the noise could disturb your neighbors.
  • Building Regulations: If the building is run by an association, it might not even be up to your landlord.
  • Health: A lot of people have pet allergies. Even if it’s unlikely that your pet could cause the neighbor upstairs itchy eyes, your landlord doesn’t want to risk it.

Still, that doesn’t mean people in Japan don’t want pets. The urban lifestyle, small apartments, and historically demanding work culture led to Japan’s pet-cafe boom. So even if you can’t have a pet in your apartment, you’re probably not too far away from a furry friend. Just be sure to consider whether the cafe is humane.

What Are The Risks?

Ultimately, whether to sneak a pet into a non-pet-friendly apartment is up to you, but you’d be taking a huge risk—possibly eviction. Some argue that rental laws in Japan are more favorable towards landlords—fewer protections and limited negotiation power contribute to the perception of weaker tenant rights in Japan. But it is actually difficult to end a lease, even at the end of a renewal contract, without justified cause.

A justified cause is based on the tenant’s needs, circumstances, history and even whether the landlord is offering compensation to the tenant to find a new home. Even then, the landlord must notify the tenant 6–12 months before they intend to end the lease.

However, this can be fast-tracked by breaking the contract, e,g., bringing a pet into a non-pet-friendly apartment. While a landlord might go easy on you, perhaps let you negotiate to pay an extra deposit, they are within their legal right to evict you from the property—and there is precedent to do so.

You’re Likely Going to Be Watched

It sounds unfair, but you receive more scrutiny from landlords and nosy neighbors as a foreigner. You can take every measure possible to minimize damage and noise, but the moment your pet is discovered, you (and your pet) are at the mercy of your landlord.

Moreover, consider that you are a representative of the foreign community in Japan. Your landlord might already feel like they are taking a risk renting out to a non-permanent resident. If you break that trust, you might sour their image of foreign tenets and ruin it for someone else down the line.

Finding Pet-Friendly Apartments

You might have to broaden your search.

Although you’ll have fewer options, pets are becoming more accepted in Japan. There are even stylish apartments with pet lovers in mind—think designer property with built-in cat towers and doggy doors. Moreover, choosing a pet-friendly apartment from the start could save you from big problems in the long run.

First, try searching for pet-friendly homes on GaijinPot Apartments. Consider broadening your search filters if you can’t find anything you like. Would you be willing to pay extra to live with your pet? Could you extend your daily commute or add more than one transfer to live further away at an apartment that accepts pets? If not, maybe owning a pet isn’t right for you. After all, it is a lot of responsibility.

You should expect to pay an extra deposit (one month’s rent) for every pet you own, usually non-refundable. But that’s a lot cheaper than being forced to pack up, move and start the apartment-hunting process all over again if you are evicted.

Another potential problem is finding an emergency contact—someone in Japan who speaks Japanese and your landlord can call if something goes wrong (e.g., you skip town). Agents will say this is no big deal because, legally, the emergency contact isn’t obligated to do anything, but finding someone who will agree to pay your rent and take in your pet—even symbolically—isn’t easy. You can remind them you paid a guarantor for this exact issue, but they might insist. Try giving your office contact, or ask your friends or boss.

If you are not looking to move or find a stray needing rescuing, it might be worth discussing the possibility of negotiating your contract with your landlord. Depending on the type of pet, they may be lenient. However, you should prepare to be told to leave if you intend to keep the pet. If you’re just trying to help a stray, consider contacting a rescue group such as the Japan Cat Network or Animal Refuge Kansai (ARK).

What is your experience finding pet-friendly apartments in Japan? Let us know in the comments!

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