Unfortunately, there are a lot of scammers active, especially on websites like Facebook. Below you will find the red flags in contracts, as well as some tips and tricks. Certain things should never appear in a rental contract – if you see these, you shouldn’t sign (or you should at least tread very carefully). Here are a few:
- The contract only contains the landlord’s first and last names, and there is no address or contact details. This is especially iffy 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. For example, the basic rent and service charges should be clearly distinguished and not all-inclusive meaning that you should be able to see a cost differentiation. If the prices seem too good to be true, they often are. Be aware of self-contained apartments with an all-inclusive rent price that is lower than market value.
- The contract doesn’t clearly specify when it starts or ends, or whether it’s a fixed-period or indefinite tenancy agreement.
- There is no provision detailing how your deposit will be transferred back to you, and under what 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 to 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 too much money, even though that is not allowed. Scammers usually just want any kind of money so they prefer to request less in the hopes to attract a desperate person.
We also have a couple of tips on how to avoid scams provided by the Huurteam Zuid-Limburg.
- Always ask to view the accommodation.
- 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.
- 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.
- Never transfer money to an account of the 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.
- 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. Usually in Maastricht the owner is also the landlord.
- Make sure the house is legally rented. Some red flags are 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.
- 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.
- Always ask for a receipt of the deposit.
- Before moving, plan an inspection of the property with the landlord to ensure that you have an agreement of the defects present on the day you moved in.
- Let the Huurteam Zuid-Limburg do a rental price check. They can make sure that the pricing of the accommodation is legal.