Housing Culture

In Korea, there are detached houses, townhouses, apartments, and office-tels. Many people prefer living in apartments in cities for the sake of convenience. Owning a house is extremely meaningful for Koreans. Housing is very expensive in Korea, and the gap between house prices in rural and urban areas is large.

Housing Types, and Matters to be Attended to

  • Jeonse (Lease)

    Unique to Korea, Jeonse is a lease based on a lump-sum deposit. By paying a deposit, you make a contract with the landlord to borrow his/her house to live in for a certain period of time, and to retrieve the deposit when the contract expires. A contract can be made for a single room, part of a house, or the entire house. To rent an entire house, you will typically need a deposit of around 60 to 70 % of the house's selling price. A lease contract is usually for a two-year term, and the law does not allow the landlord to cancel the contract before the contract expires without the renter's consent.

  • Wolse (Monthly Rent)

    You can also get accommodations on a monthly rent basis. You will still have to pay a small deposit, much smaller than that of a lease, but you will have the advantage of being able to negotiate the deposit depending on the period of your contract. If you can afford a higher monthly rent amount, the deposit can be smaller, and vice versa. Wolse conditions depend on the size and number of rooms, and other facilities. Neither a lease nor a monthly rent arrangement will include the cost of utilities. You will need to make your own arrangements to pay the electricity, water supply, gas, phone, Internet, and TV charges. Apartments do not include furniture or home appliances.

  • Check with Your Own Eyes

    There are many ways to find a place to stay. Some may find an attractive advertisement for a room on the street or at a restaurant near their workplace, and go to take a look. But most people prefer to have the help of a real estate agent. An agent's job is to show you the options, check the legal or maintenance conditions for the candidate houses on your behalf, and prepare the legal documents for your contract. You will need to pay the real estate agent a fee for his or her services.

  • Contract
    • Contract Counterpart

      A contract should be made only with the landlord concerned, and with no one else. Under no circumstances should you make a contract or pay a deposit to someone who is not the landlord, such as a current or prior tenant. If you make this type of arrangement, you expose yourself to risk, as the landlord may not acknowledge your contract as valid, and you may end up losing your deposit. When you make a contract with someone, be sure to check that he or she is indeed the rightful owner of the building. You can confirm this by referring to a copy of the register.

    • Register

      Consulting a copy of the register before making a contract is as important as checking the inside of the place by yourself. The register contains the address of the place, the name of the landlord, and the floor space and structure, and also gives information regarding whether the landlord owns the building outright or is paying a mortgage. A copy can be issued at the registry office, or through the Internet.

    • Down Payment and Deposit

      Generally, 10% of the deposit is paid in advance when the contract is signed. For example, if you are leasing a place with a deposit of 2 million, your down payment when the contract is signed will be 0.2 million. You must pay the remaining 1.8 million on the day you move in. Don't forget to get a receipt.

  • Expiration of Contract and Deposit Return

    You may wish to leave your housing before your rental contract expires. In this case, your landlord will deduct the rent for the remaining months in the contract from your deposit, and will refund the remainder to you.

    For example, suppose that your contract included a deposit of 2 million won and monthly rent of 150,000 won, and you want to end your contract three months ahead of the expiration date. If your landlord finds a new tenant right away, you can leave the place with no responsibility. If not, however, your landlord can claim the remaining three months' rent (150,000 won X 3 = 450,000 won) from your deposit, and pay you the remaining 1.55 million won.

    If you do not wish to renew your contract, you should inform your landlord that you intend to move out upon the expiration of the contract at least one month in advance. If you have informed your landlord of your intentions in this manner, it is illegal for your landlord to withhold your deposit. If your landlord wrongfully withholds your deposit, you can seek redress through a civil action. This may take some time, and requires some complex procedures. Should such a situation occur, there are various support centers from which you can seek help.

*Source : Danuri (The multicultural family support portal site)