Every year, many hopeful home seekers look for a new rental home in Denmark. It’s no secret, that there's a housing crisis in the big study towns. Especially, during study start, a flood of new housing seekers puts a tremendous pressure on a housing market that's already under massive pressure due to low supply of rentals. While most home seekers end up finding a nice place to live, unfortunately, every year, some home seekers become the victim of rental fraud. In this article, we will share some insights on how to make sure you don’t become a victim of rental fraud. Make sure to read all the tips in the article.
If you’re desperately hunting for an apartment on a short deadline, it’s tempting to get pressured to transfer the deposit before you have the key and a signed contract in your hand. However, this is where you need to remind yourself to stay calm and apply common sense to the situation. This is the most common way to get scammed, and in the rush of desperation, urgency and excitement, we’re all persuadable to let down our guards and forget common sense.
Don’t let yourself get carried away. There’s no logical or acceptable reason for a landlord to force you into paying any deposit before the keys and the contract is in place. Once you transfer the money to a criminal, who’s pretending to be a landlord, there's a big chance that all your money is lost and gone. In many cases, the scammer is operating from another country abroad, which makes the case hard to investigate for the Danish police.
Tips when searching:
- Is there a misspelling and bad language in the ad or on the website, or does the material work otherwise look unprofessional? It can be a sign of rental fraud. Call the persons or company behind the website and cross-check the information.
- Is the home unrealistically cheap? That can also be a sign of scam.
- Are you looking for accommodation on a website where it is free to place ads? Be aware that the free service may also entice the more frivolous landlords.
- There is less risk of being scammed if you are looking for accommodation on a website that is established and credible. However, there is no guarantee.
Tips when in contact with the landlord:
- Is the landlord the one he or she claims to be? Can you see which number the landlord is calling / SMS's from? Check out the information on e.g. krak.dk. Does the person send SMS via websites? It can be a sign of rental fraud.
- Are you talking to the right landlord? Check who owns the home. You can do this at the Danish Business Authority website www.boligejer.dk
Tips when you agree on renting the home
- Meet your landlord face to face. And never transfer money until you have a signed lease.
- Always read the contract thoroughly before signing. Don't be pressured to sign.
- Never pay money under the table. It is partly illegal and you have no legal opportunity to get the money back if you have been cheated.
- Never pay the deposit in cash or without seeing your future home. You may be able to deposit the money in an escrow account - thereby guaranteeing to the landlord that you can pay the deposit - and subsequently make an account transfer so that the recipient can be tracked.
- Pay particular attention if you are asked to use foreign payment services and check if the transfer can be returned in case of fraud.
- Also be very vigilant if the landlord asks for a deposit / deposit paid in a foreign account. Many false landlords have accounts abroad, and once the money is transferred to a foreign account, they are difficult to get back.
- Use your common sense and gut feeling. Have ice in your stomach, and don't be pressured. If an offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Tips if things go wrong:
- Immediately contact your bank to try to get the deposit / rent stopped.
- Collect all the documents in the case and report the fraud to the police. Call 1-1-4 or use the notification form at www.politi.dk.