Housing scams and red flags

Unfortunately there are many active housing scams in Maastricht, especially on websites like Facebook. We’ve made a list of contract red flags below. We’ve also provided some tips and tricks for you to be extra safe. There are certain things that should never appear in a rental contract and if you see these, you should NOT sign.

red flags

  • The contract only contains the landlord’s first and last name, and there is no address or contact details. This is especially dodgy if there is no agency to mediate the rental agreement
  • The landlord’s bank details are missing, or are from a foreign (non-Dutch bank)
  • The costs aren’t clearly specified. The basic rent and service charges should be clearly distinguished and not all-inclusive. This means that you should be able to see a clear cost differentiation. If the price seems too good to be true, they often are. Be wary of self-contained apartments with an all-inclusive rent price that is lower than market value.
  • The contract doesn’t clearly specify when it will start or end, or whether it’s for a fixed-period of time or if it’s an indefinite tenancy agreement.
  • There is no information provided detailing how your deposit will be transferred back to you, and under what exact terms. If the contract states that it will take anything over three months to return your deposit, beware! This is quite sketchy. Overall, you should make sure that you can clearly see what will happen with your deposit.
  • Lastly, if the contract requires you to transfer any (large) amounts of money on grounds that seem suspicious to you, be very careful. It’s possible that this may be totally fine, but be wary and make sure you know where your money is going. Also note that if the deposit is the amount of two or more months rent, that should ring some alarm bells.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Landlords often ask for too much money, even though this is not allowed. Scammers usually just want to receive any kind of money at all so they prefer to request less from you in the hopes that they attract a desperate person.

how to avoid scams – tips from the rental team

These are some tips provided by the Huurteam Zuid-Limburg:

  1. Always ask to view the accommodation.
  2. If you are not physically in Maastricht, you may ask for an online viewing (for example on Zoom) or ask a friend to visit the property for you.
  3. Don’t view a property on your own. It’s always better to take a friend with you or at least let someone know where you are going and when. 
  4. Never transfer money to the account of a landlord who states that they are in a foreign country and thus will send the keys at a later time. Be extremely careful if the landlord wants you to transfer money to a non-Dutch bank account. 
  5. Check the address on Google Maps or request proof from the Land Registry (www.kadaster.nl) to ensure that the property actually exists. You can also pay a small amount to check the information of the owner of the apartment. In Maastricht the owner is usually also the landlord. 
  6. Make sure the house is legally rented. A sign of illegal renting is if no more than three people are allowed to register to the same house number, or if you are not allowed to register at all. Usually this indicates that the house may be an illegal student house. 
  7. If you are subletting from someone, make sure that the current tenant has permission for this from the landlord. Request a confirmation from the current tenant. 
  8. Always ask for a receipt of the deposit.
  9. Before moving, plan an inspection of the property with the landlord to ensure that you have an agreement about the defects present on the day you moved in. 
  10. Let the Huurteam Zuid-Limburg do a rental price check. They can make sure that the pricing of the accommodation is legal. 

Uni View

A potential way to avoid being scammed is by using the platform Uni View. They provide online house viewings for international students coming to Maastricht, ensuring property verification and safeguarding against scams. Uni View sends someone to check out a property for you, allowing students to explore housing options in Maastricht without needing to travel here solely for a viewing. The viewings can be conducted either via video call or pre-recorded video, depending on the customer’s preference.

You can either find a property on your own via a separate housing website or you can choose a property from the list of accommodations on the Uni View website and then arrange a viewing. This service will cost you between €16 – €30 depending on your preferences.

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