About the Emergency Contact Required when Renting an Apartment in Japan
Housing in Japan
When renting an apartment in Japan, in almost all cases, you will be required to provide an emergency contact. Conversely, you may be asked by a friend or colleague to be their emergency contact for their rental contract.
So what is this “emergency contact” and who can you assign to become one? Let’s examine it in this article so you can be prepared when the need arises.
■What is an Emergency Contact?
An emergency contact (kinkyu renrakusaki) is a person who can be contacted in cases where the landlord or management company needs to communicate with you but is unable to reach you for some reason.
In general, a person assigned to be an emergency contact is usually one of the following:
・A family member living in Japan (up to third-degree relatives)
・A friend, colleague, or superior living in Japan
・A friend, colleague, or superior with Japanese nationality
Depending on the property owner or management company, there may be specific requirements for the emergency contact, so it is a good idea to check with the real estate agency before making an application.
One common requirement is that the emergency contact must not be someone living with you. For instance, if you are married and will live in the property with your spouse, you cannot assign your spouse to be your emergency contact. However, if you will live alone and your spouse lives in a different place, then your spouse can be your emergency contact.
Note that if you are a foreign national, you may be required to provide two emergency contacts: an emergency contact living in Japan, and an emergency contact (family member) in your home country.
■What is a Joint Guarantor?
A joint guarantor (rentai hoshonin) is a person who is legally responsible to pay the rent or other fees (such as repair costs when moving out) when the tenant is unable to do so on their own. Many privately-owned properties require you to have a joint guarantor. The joint guarantor must have a certain level of stable income which is checked during the tenant screening process.
In recent years, the use of guarantor companies in place of a joint guarantor has increased.
■Difference between the Emergency Contact and the Joint Guarantor
The biggest difference between an emergency contact and a joint guarantor is that the joint guarantor has the legal responsiblity to pay for rent or other fees. An emergency contact is just a person who acts as a point of contact in case of emergencies where the tenant cannot be reached. Emergency contacts are not screened as strictly as joint guarantors.
On the other hand, as mentioned above, joint guarantors are screened for their financial capacity. Since they are legally obliged to pay on behalf of the tenant if the tenant is unable to do so, joint guarantors must have a certain level of stable income.
■Required Personal Information
When assigning an emergency contact in a property rental application, you normally need to provide the following personal information:
・Date of birth
・Relationship with the applicant
As for joint guarantors, since they are screened for their financial capacity, you also need to provide their place of employment and annual income.
In this article, we explained all about the emergency contact required when renting an apartment in Japan. The emergency contact is sometimes mistaken for the joint guarantor, but these two are quite different in terms of responsibility. It is a good idea to understand the differences between these two, especially if you need to ask someone (or if someone asks you) to be an emergency contact or joint guarantor.