When many foreigners rent housing in Japan, they are often surprised at the amount of fees that must be paid before moving in.
For example, agency fees, contract fees, renewal fees, management fees, cleaning fees, guarantor fees, and the list goes on and on. One common fee is 礼金 , reikin, key money. But what is key money?
The origin of key money lies in the Great Kanto Earthquake. The Great Kanto Earthquake destroyed most of Tokyo, and landlords had to choose housing from a huge number of prospective tenants.
The savers, who were trying to win the favor of the landlord, offered key money as a token of their gratitude for allowing them to live in the property. Rei-kin is a token of gratitude from the tenant to the landlord, literally meaning "thank you money.
Today, nearly 100 years after the Great Kanto Earthquake, this tradition is still carried on. However, key money had to be paid when renting an apartment in Japan. As a result, many people no longer consider key money a "gift," and many foreigners who have immigrated to Japan are shocked by the concept of key money. This is because there is no such thing as "rei-kin" in the West.
We can even show you houses with no key money!
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