Feeds Topics Living Abroad Detecting Accommodation Scams

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    Deborah Etim
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    Moving to a new country, and finding accommodation can prove to be difficult, especially in an environment you are not familiar with. If you just moved to Berlin, click here to find ways of getting accommodation in the city.

    Finding accommodation gets worse when fraudsters and scammers try to deceive unsuspecting people, who are looking to rent an apartment. These fraudsters lure people with all sorts of tricks, to take their money and give nothing in return. Sometimes, these scammers advertise a fake accommodation and cajole you into paying for it. They go as far as posing as housing agents, just to swindle people of their money.

    In this post, we share tips on how to detect fake housing adverts in Europe.

    • If you are asked to pay a certain sum of money to ‘hold’ a property, you should beware. No legitimate housing agency will ask you to pay a holding fee upon contacting them. Unfortunately, many people have lost hundreds of pounds to these scammers, who promise to keep the apartment for them.

    • Free house listing sites like European Property are liable to have several fake ads. This is because the sites allow different people to post properties for lease or sale, and many times, scammers use this as an opportunity to advertise fake houses. There are real adverts on sites like this but it is better to be wary, and not accept everything you see.

    • Avoid house listings with no photos of the house or apartment. Although pictures are not always a guarantee, they are proof that you are heading in the right direction.

    • Do not send out money before going over to inspect the house. If the agent or landlord insists that you wire the money to them through untraceable means like cryptocurrency, do not agree.

    • When you go to inspect the house, use a land registry or ask for documents showing that the landlord or agent, is the genuine personnel.

    • Always receive proof of payment, a receipt to show that you have paid for the apartment. If you have been scammed, this receipt can be used to trace the fraudsters.

    • If you are not available in person but need to secure a place in another country, ask a trusted friend or relative in that region to check out the place for you. If you do not have anybody to this on your behalf, hold on until you get there.

    • When you find a place, search the internet for the landlord or agent’s name and include the word ‘scam’. If they are scammers, victims have likely gone online to any social media platform to report them. Search engines are smart and will pull out results based on your keywords.

    • Check and confirm the tenancy agreement before paying anybody.

    Ultimately, always trust your instinct. If it is too good to be true, then it is. If you find an ad that lists accommodation at a ridiculously low price, you should be skeptical about it. Best to find out the price range of houses in that area and judge from your research.

    Photo Credit: Takechargeamerica

  • Detecting Accommodation Scams

    Michael updated 2 years, 11 months ago 2 Members · 1 Reply
  • Michael

    Member
    June 6, 2021 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks for the great content; this is a must-read before starting an accommodation search in Europe.
    I have had many cases like this; almost fell for them, but thank God I earn money from hard work, I couldn’t have paid anyone to ‘hold’ an apartment for me or wire money before seeing the house.
    In Germany houses are rented out either via housing companies or private owners; in both cases, it is compulsory to first visit, inspect and agree to get the place. Most times there are more than 3 people visiting a place at the same time, so hardly could anyone promise to ‘hold’ an apartment for you.
    Also, you ONLY pay once you have moved into the apartment, but not before!
    So shine your eyes dear people!

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