Moving to Korea > Housing

Before Signing Rental Lease or Moving In

Before Signing Rental Leas...

Following is a check list you'll want to go through before signing the lease (contract) and moving in:

  • Verify that the agent(s) with whom you are working is a registered agent. To do so, contact your local district (gu) office and give them the name and business registration number of the agent. Note that you might need help from a Korean speaker, although not necessarily.
  • Find out if the property owner will be replacing the flooring, wallpaper and/or window coverings. Generally, this will be done between tenants, especially if the previous tenant has been there for some time. It's generally not done until there is a new tenant.
  • Be sure to do a final check on the apartment as well before signing the lease. Check all the doors and windows to make sure the place is secure. Also check the water pressure, lights and switches, boiler function (both for water and floor heating), and any of the appliances that the apartment comes equipped with. Make sure the repairs are completed before you move in  or you may find yourself in a permanent tug-of-war over getting the work done or even paying for it out of your own pocket (no reembursement). 
  • Verify what fire safety equipment is available in the unit. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and smoke alarm. If you do not have these, and your landlord will not provide them, you can purchase them online (the cost is quite affordable; you will need help from a Korean speaker, however). Note that foreign residents have been killed or seriously injured in building fires in recent years. Note how you would vacate the unit in case of fire.
  • Attach an appendix to the lease regarding agreements on repairs for furnishing that come with the apartment such as the refrigerator, gas stove/oven, washing machine, drier, air conditioner, cable, satellite equipment, Internet connection, curtains, closets, etc. as well as repainting and redecoration of the lease property. Please note that the furnishings listed above are often provided by the tenant and not the landlord/lady
  • Check the property record before signing any lease, especially when paying key money, to find out if the owner really does own the property or if the property is being used as collateral on any kind of loan. Should you rent a property against which there is a lien, you may not get your money back should the owner breach the contract. Before signing you can also ask the agent to show you the status of the house owner’s mortgage on the property. This is particularly necessary if you have put down a large deposit over 10 million won.
  • Clarify in the lease whether it is the owner or tenant who pays for expenses related to public areas such as the parking lot and elevator.
  • If you intend to hang pictures/art works on the walls, check to see if it's allowed (many property owners don't want holes put in their concrete walls). If they say it is allowed, you may want to have it stated in the lease to avoid finding out when you're moving out that you have to pay to fill in the holes in the walls.
  • The outside windows of many small buildings in Korea are rarely if ever washed. You may want to talk to your property owner or agent about this before you sign the lease and see if you can work out an arrangement t have them cleaned periodically
  • Get everything in writing. DO NOT RELY on verbal assurances.
  • Take pictures of the property – inside and out – before you move in. Record any damage and even signs of normal wear and tear. Having photos will help if the property owner tries to deduct the 'cost of repairs' for any of these when it comes time to give you back your deposit.
  • Make sure that the lease indicates that you are not responsible for ‘normal wear and tear’ and make sure that you and the owner are clear on what that means.
  • Check that the conditions for termination of the lease are not too strict. You want to make sure that if something comes up and you have to terminate the lease early, you can get your key money back without much difficulty. Some agencies, such as the global villages in various areas of Seoul, can look at your lease for you. Note: Tenants are required to advise the property owner/manager no less than 30 days prior to the termination of the lease if they intend to move out. Without the 30 day notice, the lease is automatically extended by 3 months and tenants are obligated to pay the extra 3 months even if they want to move out. Most property owners don't enforce this particular regulation, however, there are some that do.
  • Within two weeks of your move,  bring your signed lease to the district (gu) office to report your  change of address. This MUST be done within 2 weeks.
  • You should also take your lease agreement to the local registry office (등기소) to get a Hwak-jeong-il-ja (확정일자). This is an official record of the deposit money you have put down, and establishes your priority for getting your money back should the property go to public auction.


K4E Editor's Note: wants to provide the most accurate and complete information possible so if you noticed any errors or omissions on this page, please let us know at

Last Updated on 2015-04-07

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