Have you ever been offered a modern apartment inside of a colorful, crooked house located in Amsterdam’s city centre, for only 450 euros? Then you have probably been presented a fake offer, or as it is commonly called in Facebook: a housing scam.
Yunfu Duan / Staff
These sketchy offers can be found in several online housing platforms and in certain Facebook groups, where users promote their own housing offers. It can especially be easy to fall for these offers if one does not have previous knowledge about the housing shortage in the Dutch capital, which is why mostly international students and expats might fall for these traps.
According to a 2016 report of the national realtor organization NVM, the rent price of an average apartment in Noord-Holland has increased by almost 10 percent due to high demand and insufficient housing offer. NVM also predicts prices to consistently increase in the following years.
Given the expensive rent prices and the highly competitive housing environment, future residents might feel tempted to accept cheap offers. In the case of internationals, many of them are not in Amsterdam to check out the places or attend viewings. This makes it easier for scammers to lead them on.
Many victims of housing scams in Amsterdam do not file a report or press charges to the police. Moreover, the police department does not gather specific statistics about housing scams in the Dutch capital. Instead, these cases fall under the category of Internet fraud. After bringing the case to the police, they will decide if there is enough material and evidence about the scammer to proceed with an investigation.
Tips to avoid scams
Directly transfer the money to a bank account, instead of using services such as Western Union or paying by cash. Hiring an agency is also a good option to facilitate the process of finding a home, but make sure that it is preferably affiliated to the NVM or other professional associations.
Ask the tenant for personal information beyond his email address and Facebook profile (which could be fake), such as his personal or business address. Scammers can easily fake documents such as passports, so do not rely on this kind of information.
Verify who is the owner of the property via Kadaster . If the person who is supposed to be your landlord is not registered as the owner, ask for an explanation and for proof that the person is acting on the owner’s behalf.