Is it legal to sublease an apartment in Japan?

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Subleasing property is not generally as accepted in Japan as it is in other parts of the world.  Most rental contracts tend to include a provision specifically prohibiting subleasing.  In these cases, the terms of the agreement will typically state that if a tenant subleases the apartment without the landlord’s prior approval, the landlord may cancel the contract.

If the landlord does give approval for a sublease, often the new tenant occupying the apartment shall assume a direct obligation to the landlord, essentially replacing the old tenant.  This simplifies the rental payment by allowing the new tenant’s rent obligation to flow directly to the landlord, rather than pass through the original tenant first.  However, this system also makes it difficult or impossible for a tenant to make money on subleasing his or her rented apartment.

It is always best to consult with an attorney before attempting to sublease an apartment.  If you have any questions about leases or real property law in Japan, please contact our office to set up a legal consultation.