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Living with pets in Japan: Things to know about owning a pet

Study for renting property
Category : Study for renting propertyLiving in Tokyo

Pets are considered members of the family. Having a pet means a lot to people, especially those living abroad in unfamiliar places, where pets can be an emotional support to relieve anxiety. In Japan, pet-friendly apartments and houses are available for rent. However, there are some requirements to meet for a rental contract. Also, pet owners need to be aware of the pet keeping rules in Japan.

Finding a pet-friendly rental property

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan, the population of registered dogs in Japan is about 6.2 million (As of 2018). Since having dogs or cats as a pet is prevalent in Japan, pet owners living in rental apartments have been increasing. Pet owners who look for a rental property are supposed to search for the one among pet-friendly properties, need carefully check requirements set by each landlord. The requirements usually include sizes of the dogs, the breed, and negotiation may be necessary in some cases.

Requirements for renting a pet-allowed apartment/housing

Pet-friendly rental properties usually have requirements like below;

-Dogs and Cats Only Allowed
Animals other than dogs and cats are not allowed as pets at most of the rental properties.

-Dogs Only Allowed
In Japan, cats are not allowed at many rental properties. Landlords concern about cat likely scratches on walls and floors that will be costly for restoration.

-Number of Pets are Limited
Pets will not be allowed depending on how many of them the owner has. The pet owner should know about the limited number of pets allowed when renting even a pet-friendly apartment. In most cases, it is not very easy to find rental apartments allowing several pets, two or more.

-Allowed depending on Dog Size
Dogs are allowed depending on the size – whether small dogs such as Toy poodle, or large dogs such as Doberman. It may be difficult to find rental apartments allowing large types of dogs (weigh 10kg or over).

-Allowed depending on the Dog Breed
Some properties may allow a large dog if the dog has a gentle personality and rarely barks. Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and those dog breeds known for sweet-natured personalities are often to be allowed.

What tenants with pets need to prepare for a property lease contract

To have a property lease contract, pet owners usually need to fulfill some additional requirements. For example, they are required to pay an extra month’s deposit, or a security deposit (fee) amortized on a contract basis. The dog owner also needs to provide documents – a dog license and rabies vaccination certificate.

Dog license (鑑札 Kansatsu) and Rabies vaccination certificate(狂犬病予防注射済証 Kyoukenbyo Yobou-chuusha Sumishou)

Japanese Rabies Prevention Law requires that all dogs over 91 days old are registered and get a dog license issued at the municipal office where the owner lives. The law also requires all dog owners to vaccinate their dogs annually against rabies. The vaccination can be done at animal hospitals or places organized by municipalities.

In the case of having a vaccination at an animal hospital, the dog owner can receive a rabies vaccination certificate. If you are a dog owner who needs the certificate for a property lease contract, make a copy and use it for submission to the landlord. The original certificate is required when you bring it to the municipal office and get issued a collar tag of injection certificate for your dog (注射済票 Chuusha Sumihyo).

The vaccination by municipalities takes place annually and is done at a designated location in the season between April and June, where the collar tag of the injection certificate is issued on site. For foreign residents, vaccination at an animal hospital will be much convenient as municipalities organize it with a fixed schedule, and available language will only be Japanese.

As for the costs required will be about 3000 JPY for a dog registration at a municipal office, 550 JPY for a collar tag of injection certificate. Vaccination fee will vary depending on the animal hospital or the municipal office, will cost around 3200 JPY (As of 2020 March).

Dog Rules & Etiquette in Japan

If you start living with your pet in a new place, it is suggested that you keep in mind about consideration for neighbors. All the tenants living in a pet-friendly apartment may not always own a pet, have different thoughts about dogs and cats. If you moved into a new place, say hello to your neighbors and tell them you have a pet. Also, daily communication with neighbors will help you avoid pet troubles.

Follow dog-keeping rules and enjoy your living with pets
Dog owners need to know about the rules and manners in Japan, which may be different from those in your country. If you go for a walk with your dog(s), you must always keep them on the leash. It means off-leash is not allowed while walking. Bringing a dog poop bag and bottled water for cleaning is an etiquette.

Daily dog walking will surely give you benefits. It can be an exercise, help you relieve stress, and get a chance to meet friends and have pleasant chitchat on the way there. Knowing about pet rules and etiquettes will help you stay away from troubles that make your pet smile in a friendly atmosphere, brings you joy in your everyday life.


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