Rental scams and how to avoid them

2018-02-25T16:02:52+00:00 January 20th, 2018|

Unfortunately, scams in the bigger cities especially Copenhagen and Århus do happen. Every year there are a number of reported cases in the media just before University students start their educations in august and september. Students are especially vulnerable to scams because once they’ve been admitted to their education they have perhaps 3-4 months to find a residence. At the present many new students don’t find a home in time and it makes them prime targets for scammers.

That being said Denmark is very safe with the compared to other major cities in Europe. If you use common sense and the advice presented on this site then for the most part you should be just fine. There are two concerns that you should be aware of and they constitute the vast majority of scams and abuse.

Firstly, you need to be aware of those who try to scam you out of your security deposit without actually having an apartment to rent out. Secondly, you need to be careful about your landlord trying to get more of your deposit than he or she legitimately can. Reading below you’ll learn how to exactly deal with these scams.

The non-existing apartment scam

The most common scam to be aware of is a scam where a tenant transfers the security (deposit and prepaid rent) only to find out later that there is no apartment for them and they never hear from the scammer again and their security is lost.

What happens is that these scammers will put up an advert for an apartment online and possibly even show you around the empty apartment to make it look genuine. However, the scammers don’t own the apartment, they either rent it short term or have forced access to it. They will ask for the security up front and since you have few options left in this market you agree to this. After this contact with the individual stops and you find out that he didn’t own the apartment and the actual owner or tenant shows up.

Often times scammers rent an apartment from someone who is travelling a few months. With access to an apartment that is vacant a few months many people can be scammed. Later the real tenant finds out that their apartment has been used for scamming but they also find out that the scammer has given them false information.

In the end, your money is lost and with very little hope of getting it back.

A large part of these scams is made by criminals in other parts of Europe and even outside Europe. In the less sophisticated version of this scam they just make an online add and try to convince you to transfer the security without ever showing the apartment or showing you a lease. The vast majority of these scams are made with apartments and rarely houses.

Warnings signs

  • The landlord can’t be contacted by phone.

  • Many scammers are organized criminals from outside Denmark.

  • They don’t own the apartment themselves. While subrenting is common in Denmark be mindful when the individual don’t own the apartment themselves. You can check ownership of all homes in Denmark at www.boligejer.dk

  • They can’t show you the apartment in person.

  • They ask for the security without showing you a contract or the apartment itself.

  • They ask for the security in cash.

  • They ask for the security sent to a foreign bank account.

  • It’s much cheaper than what’s normal for the market.

Advice

  • Be especially aware just before University starts around august and september.

  • Please promise me you won’t EVER hand over the security in cash to anyone.

  • Never accept to transfer the security before you have signed the lease and made a moving in report.

  • Ask for or even hire help if you get a bad feeling from anyone. And don’t be afraid to walk away.

  • Get everything in writing.

The greedy landlord

The greedy landlord is a term I use for landlords who try to keep more of your deposit than he or she is actually entitled to. Depending on how far the greedy landlord is willing to go it can be a scam and illegal or it can just be unethical and everywhere in between that.

What happens is that when you have terminated your tenancy agreement/rental agreement your landlord informs you that some or all of your deposit will be withheld to refurbish the home. Sometimes this is legitimate but sometimes it’s an excuse to get more money from a tenant. A greedy landlord will prey on the ignorance of the tenant and claim that many things need to be repaired to bring he home in order.

The legitimacy of this claim can be difficult for anyone to evaluate and the greedy landlord will abuse this to their advantage. Unless you have done a proper moving in report you are at a very big disadvantage. A landlord can not claim repairs for anything stated in the moving report. I can not stress enough how important this is.

There are different strategies for this, some landlords will try to avoid a proper moving in report or downplay its relevance. This way you can’t prove anything when you end the rental agreement. Others will try to put things into the rental agreement that they can not legally claim repairs for hoping the tenant does know this.

Either way you are likely dealing with a professional who knows the rental law and has experience doing this. If you feel you are dealing with a greedy landlord, get help.

Warnings signs

  • The landlord will try to avoid putting anything into a moving in report when you are inspecting the apartment.

  • The lease or tenancy agreement requires you to make unreasonable repairs and refurbishments to the home.

  • When making the moving out report the landlord will ask for repair for the smallest and ridiculous things.

Advice

  • Have the rental agreement reviewed before signing it to understand what you are obligated to do when moving out and whether the rental agreement asks more of you than allowed by Danish rental law.

  • Always, Always make a moving in report.

  • Never accept a moving out report that you feel is unfair until you have had someone take a second look at it.

  • Understand that there is quite a lot of money involved in this so never be in such a hurry that you put yourself at a disadvantage.

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