Acing Your Move-Out Inspection in Japan

Moving out of your Japanese apartment? Congratulations on your new chapter! But before you leave, there’s one hurdle to clear: the move-out inspection. This inspection, conducted by your landlord or their representative, assesses the apartment’s condition and determines your security deposit. This blog will be your guide to walk through the process.

Coto Academy is a Japanese language school located in Tokyo and Yokohama. With its small class sizes and flexible course schedule, we ensure the students find their community here in Japan and learn practical and useful daily-life Japanese by focusing on conversational practice.

A Quick Jump To…

In General

The inspector will go through the apartment to check if everything is working, such as the stove and other appliances, and if there is damage anywhere, they will write a short report and collect the keys from you. The repair costs will be added to the cleaning fee and subtracted from your security deposit for any damages found. The cleaning fee is usually between 1,000 to 1,200 yen per square meter, with a minimum fee of 35,000 yen. A tip is to clean the apartment or find professional cleaning before the inspection to avoid extra costs that you could have avoided.

What You Will Be Charged

  • Discoloration, stains, and mold on the floor/walls due to the tenant’s negligence (spilled food/drinks, smoking, pets, etc.)
  • Damage to the floor/tatami by chairs
  • Tear, scratched, and screwed holes in the wallpaper
  • Rust and mold caused by pets or cigarettes
  • Limescale and mold in the bathroom and toilet
  • Oil and grease stain in the kitchen
  • Disposal of belongings/garbage left in the apartment or shared areas

* If you found the damage before moving in, take a picture to avoid being charged.

What You Will Not Be Charged

  • Discoloration on floor/walls due to sunlight or building leaks
  • The natural wearing of floor wax
  • Light indention on the floor from furniture or traces of where furniture was placed
  • A few drawing pin holes in the wall

* if you notice a leak and fail to inform the landlord, you may have to pay damages

Preparation Is Key

  • Review your lease: It details cleaning and repair expectations for returning the apartment.
  • Dig up the “initial inspection report”: This document, created during move-in, lists existing wear and tear. Use it as a reference during your final inspection.
  • Do your mini-inspection and deep clean: Check that items such as lights, toilets, air conditioners, and any other amenities that come with the house are working, and get permission to fix some parts yourself. Also, scrub every corner! Remember, you’re aiming for “normal wear and tear,” not “weekend warrior.”
  • Fix minor damages: Patch small nail holes, tighten loose screws, etc. Be proactive!

The Inspection Day

  • Be present: This is your chance to address the inspector’s concerns.
  • Walkthrough together: Point out pre-existing damage documented in the initial report.
  • Take photos: Document the apartment’s condition during the inspection for future reference (if needed).

Beyond the Basics

  • Cleaning companies: While some landlords require professional cleaning, others allow thorough self-cleaning.
  • Professional repairs: For significant damage beyond “normal wear and tear,” consider getting quotes beforehand.
  • Communication is key: If any disputes arise during the inspection, address them calmly and try to find a solution.

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Useful Japanese Phrases

  • きれいにしました。 kireini shimashita. – I cleaned it.
  • もう一度掃除します。mou ichido souji shimasu. – I can clean it again (if something isn’t considered clean enough)
  • この傷は、私が入居する前からあったと思うんですが。Kono kizu wa, watashi ga nyūkyo suru mae kara atta to omou ndesuga. – I think this is a scratch from before I moved in.
  • こちらの汚れはクリーニングを試みたのですが、落ちませんでした。何かアドバイスをいただけませんか。Kochira no yogore wa kuriiningu o kokoromiru da kedo, ochimasen deshita. Nanika adobaisu o itadakemasen ka? – I tried cleaning this stain, but it didn’t come off. Could you please offer some advice?

Useful Japanese Vocabulary

  • 修繕 shusan – Repair
  • 費用 hiyou – Cost
  • kizu – Scratch/Damage
  • 汚れ yogore – Stain
  • 入居 nyuukyo – Move-in (use this to indicate the damage was already there when you moved in)
  • 掃除 souji – Cleaning

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You Might Be Wondering…

What is considered "normal wear and tear"?

This includes fading paint, minor scratches on floors, and carpet discoloration.

Can I be charged for cleaning even if I clean myself?

Yes, some landlords have a base cleaning fee deducted from the security deposit.

What happens if my security deposit isn't returned in full?

If you disagree with deductions, negotiate with your landlord or consult a consumer affairs center.

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