Fraud in renting student accommodation. How to avoid it?
When renting a student apartment, the ideal situation is to be able to visit it before signing the contract, in order to check if it is as advertised and meets your expectations. Without this, you are prone to falling for fraud in renting student accommodation.
10 tips to rent an apartment online safely, avoiding fraud.
There are times when, for various reasons, we cannot execute that first inspection and we are, in a way, “forced” to rent a flat online. It may be that the city is far from your home or even in another country, in such case as an Erasmus stay or going to study in another city. It is at that moment when all kinds of doubts beset us: can I trust this website? Is it safe to rent a flat online? How do I make sure the photos correspond to reality?
If you can relate to these questions, keep on reading. We are going to give you 10 tips to help you find and book your new home avoiding fraud in renting student accommodation and scams as much as possible.
Let's get down to business…
1. Search for information regarding the city in which you want to rent the apartment.
This will help you get a first overview of the city. You should focus on aspects such as where your University or your workplace is located, the historic centre of the city and its different neighbourhoods, commercial areas, bus stations, train, metro ... Once you have this first map of the city, let's get to the second point.
Here in Erasmus Play, we have gathered much key information about a lot of cities across Europe. Search for your host city and be informed: City information
2. Find out which are the best neighbourhoods to live in based on your needs.
Every city has its neighbourhoods where people with a similar lifestyle gather. It is important that you review the neighbourhoods that make up the city, how they are communicated by public transport with the city centre, with your faculty, your workplace and what services they offer.
Especially, if you are a student, analyse your host city to know the best neighbourhoods for students to live in, take into account their advantages and disadvantages and the price range of rents, paying special attention to what they include or do not include.
3. Beware of low prices or bargains.
Now that you have decided the neighbourhood in which you would like to live in, and already have an idea of the price range of rental apartments, be wary of the apartments that have very low prices or seem a bargain.
For example, if most of the flats that are between € 500 and € 600 have 2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom, be very sceptical of an apartment for € 350 in that area with practically the same amenities.
As we always say, if it's too good to be true, then definitely it is too good to be true.
4. Use trustworthy websites.
If you are going to study in another city or going on Erasmus, universities usually offer some key websites to find accommodation. Take a look at them without losing sight of the previous point.
Apartment search engines and comparison sites are also a very good option. They collect the accommodation offer from different websites and display them in a single space where you can filter and choose what interests you the most. On this type of website, you must only pay attention to the verified accommodations.
In our housing search engine, Erasmus Play you can find verified flats, rooms and even residences, as well as you will find key information about your host city.
5. Search for verified accommodations.
As we previously stated, a good option to find accommodation can be housing search engines of apartments and rooms for students. Of course, you must seek only the verified housing. How do you know if an accommodation is verified?
To avoid fraud in renting student accommodation, search engines have to indicates if the accommodations have been previously verified.
No matter where you end to proceed with booking accommodation, they always have to state if it has been verified or not. If it is not clear ask before moving ahead. With verified housing, the person who verified the apartment might appear in some of the photos.
6. Double check.
We have already stated the importance of looking for verified housing, but still, do not hesitate to carry out a second check, remember that you are going to live here for the next months and you have to do your due diligence.
As an extra measure to avoid fraud in renting students accommodation, look up the address in Google maps to ensure its existence and that it is located in the neighbourhood you are looking for. In addition, you can also check if the photos of the exterior of the building correspond to the images of Google Street.
7. The Contract.
You should always sign a contract that includes the amount to be paid for the accommodation, the conditions, the state in which the house is, and even the furniture and utensils that it has.
If you book through a platform, carefully read all the attached documents when making the reservation.
Pay special attention to the cancellation conditions, how you must proceed with the payment of the deposit and the corresponding monthly payments.
8. Do not prepay the entire stay.
The normal thing to do when booking a place is to pay the first month, a deposit, and then, upon arrival at the apartment, the following months are paid as they pass.
If from the beginning, they demand the entire payment of your stay, it is highly possible that that apartment is a fraud.
9. Use secure payment methods.
Now that you have the chosen apartment/room and you have read all the rental conditions, you will then proceed to secure your reservation by paying for it.
Use a credit card or bank transfer to make the payment of the reservation, the deposit and monthly rent, as well as any of the expenses related to the apartment.
We strongly advise against making payments in cash, or through money transfer companies such as Money Gram or Western Union since your payment can be lost and it is not possible to trace it.
10. Ask for a contact in case of unforeseen events.
Your arrival at the accommodation may be delayed for different reasons, or it may be that during your stay an appliance might break down and you have to contact someone to fix it.
For these reasons, you must ask for a contact telephone number or email. We also advise you to make the first call or send an email to notify your arrival and check that everything is in place.
With these tips and a little common sense, you will surely find your student accommodation safely, avoiding scams and rental fraud.
If you already know your next destination city, do not hesitate to look for information in our blog.