Sharehouses in Hongdae

Tenant Rights In South Korea

When renting in South Korea, the language barrier is a reality you will have to deal with. The majority of the agencies do not offer their services in English. A Korean-speaking friend or your school can help you with renting but there is more you need to know.

Most foreigners know their landlord as a stamp on a contract and virtual KakaoTalk presence they will pester two weeks in November to fix the boiler. But what if he doesn’t? If you don’t know what your rights are as a tenant, keep reading!


Jeonse is a renting system specific to South Korea. The tenant pays the landlord a big sum of money, up to 80% of the value of the apartment or the house he wishes to rent. However, he will pay no monthly rent and, at the end of the lease he will receive his deposit in full.

If any damage has been done to the apartment, the tenant will have to repair it to the owner’s standard before receiving his deposit back. You have to cover all the repair fees when renting the jeonse way. Whether you break the sink or the washing machine, the payment and the logistics are something you have to deal with, just as if you owned the place.

The deposit paid is between 50 to 80% of the price of the apartment. However, the price of real estate in that area might increase or decrease. In case the market price for your apartment decreases, when you renew your lease you should receive the difference from your landlord. If your landlord fails to do so you have the right to file a lawsuit against him.

On the other hand, when the marketplace value of your apartment rises, when renewing the lease you have to make up the difference.


Wolse is the regular renting system. The key money you should expect to pay will be usually a month’s rent but could be up tp three months’. You can sign a contract for either one or two years, the latter being the more popular option.

If something breaks, all you need to do is notify the landlord. The contract binds them to handle both the logistics and the payment for any repairs. Moldy wallpaper? Call you landlord! Busted pipe? Call your landlord!

If you break something, say for example a window, or a door, they will take the money from your deposit, but they will handle the logistic part of the repairs.

If your apartment is furnished, the landlord pays for their repair or replacement. So if the place came with a fridge and it broke, you won’t have to dish out over a 1.000.000 KRW for a new fridge.

If your landlord does not do his duties, you have the right to break the contract and walk away with your deposit. The only downside is that you will have to find a new place.


In both situations, utilities are billed in your name. Your school or a friend can help you with this, but, if you have neither, you can call the Dasan Call Center and they will direct you or help you sign up for electricity, internet, gas, water.

Everything is billed in your name and delivered to your mailbox. You can pay your bills through bank transfer at an ATM or at your local convenience store. You must pay some bills in cash, not by credit card, so come prepared.

If you forget to pay a bill you don’t have to worry. It takes months of not paying for your service to be cut off. However, you will be penalized for being late with your payment. The penalties for this are minor.

Get Registered!

It is critical to get registered as a tenant at your local district office. You are legally obligated to do this. However, it will prove beneficial to you in case you encounter trouble with your landlord. Your Alien Registration Card and your gu are proof that you are a legal resident.

Legal Help

The language barrier will often stand in your way while in South Korea. When you and your landlord cannot understand each other you can ask for a friend’s help. However, if you can’t solve the matter through amiable conversation, you do have other options.

The South Korean state offers free legal counseling for foreigners regardless of visa status. In order to make reservations you can call 1345 or online through, Hi Korea. They offer this service in 20 different languages.

Published on: December 23, 2016  -  Filed under: Blog  -  Tagged: , , , , , , ,