A new academic year.
In a month the new academic year will start again and that means: a lot of new students from domestic and abroad coming to live in the beautiful city of Groningen. Unfortunately, there are scammers who take advantage of the fact that these new students are mostly young and unfamiliar with renting in Groningen. In this article, we will explain to you what to look out for when looking for housing in Groningen.
Who are you actually in contact with?
Many housing seekers do their best to contact as many landlords as possible. The landlords do not respond very often to requests because there are simply too many applicants. You should therefore pay extra attention when you yourself are approached by a landlord without having sent the first message or having done a search request. Many landlords don’t have to make this effort themselves. Scammers however, do.
When you are finally in contact with a landlord, you should always pay attention to whether you are talking to a private person or a company. In Groningen, many companies often have the words “Vastgoed,” “Makelaars” or “050” in the name. There are also companies that don’t have that, but it’s a nice giveaway. Unfortunately, scammers also use these terms to appear more legitimate.
If you are in contact with a company, check if you can find them on Google? Often when a company cannot be found on the Internet, that is reason to be extremely cautious. This is because scammers are less likely to have a good website because too much time and money goes into it and they often have to change their name. With individuals, of course, this is somewhat more difficult because even legitimate individuals usually do not have a website.
Take a look!
Once you are offered a room, it is important that you always ask if you can view it, even if you could not be there yourself. This is because there are scammers who offer properties that do not belong to them, that are already occupied or even do not exist at all. Therefore, scammers almost never want to accept a viewing. Any normal landlord will. It is therefore a red flag when a landlord refuses a viewing or tries to convince you to sign without a viewing.
When you have gotten a viewing date, it is best to show up in person or have someone come for you. If there really is no other way, in the extreme, you can request an online viewing. In that case, make sure that you also see the street name and house number. In any case, we always advise against signing a contract without any viewing.
It is also useful to check whether the house has a permit for room rental. After all, if you get 2 or more roommates, a house must have this. An overview of all issued permits can be found here. If a house does not have such a permit, tenants run the risk of being evicted early. You can also email the municipality for this information.
Beware of weird demands.
Often scammers try to get as much money from you as possible, for example deposit or first month’s rent, before you even see the property. They do this with arguments of “then it is reserved for you” or “then the signing will come later”. Never do this! When you do it is virtually impossible to ever see that money again.
Also, if you are told that you have to transfer the money to a lawyer abroad for tax purposes, in 99 out of 100 cases this is incorrect and a telltale sign of a scam. These are ways the scammers ensure that transactions are no longer traceable.
You may also be asked for a copy of an ID card. This is a way for scammers to commit identity fraud. In principle, always say no, as there is no obligation by law to do so. Still, are you convinced that the landlord is legitimate and are fine with sending a copy? Then send a copy with the Social Security number and document number crossed out.
Listen to your gut.
It sounds a bit cliché, yet it is often true. If something sounds too good to be true, it often is. Rooms offered for way too little money, contracts that don’t include the landlord’s contact information and have a mismatching signature, or foreign accounts that need money sent to them quickly all feel and sound bad. So always be careful and don’t act too quickly. Do your due diligence and acquire as much information as possible.
On facebook and whatsapp you can find groups of house seekers. Here there are also people with experience in renting in Groningen. In those groups you can also often ask if people are already familiar with certain landlords and can give you useful information.
Because there are a lot of things to look out for, we have a handy checklist here that you can keep handy when looking for a property. Always check if these points are true to make sure there’s less of a chance to be scammed.
- You approached the landlord first and not the other way around.
- You can find the landlord on Google/Social Media.
- The landlord is positive about a viewing in person.
- The house has the necessary permits.
- There are no weird requirements before you can rent.
- The landlord is already known to other people.
- Your gut feeling is positive with this landlord.