top of page
  • Hari Krishnan

How to avoid rental scams in Germany?

Finding a place to live in Germany can be a great experience, but it's important to be cautious of rental scams that can ruin everything. In Germany, rental scams come in many different ways, from fake listings to shady landlords who try to take advantage of people, especially expats looking for a place to live. This guide is here to help you avoid these scams and find your home in Germany.


rental scam advertisements in Germany


As per Statista, the number of recorded cases of economic crime involving fraud in Germany has increased to 52,874 in 2022 compared to 41,612 in 2011.


A personal experience

I was looking for a new apartment in 2021 around Munich and I applied to a couple of advertisements in immobilienscout24 and immowelt.de. One of those applications was unfortunately from a scammer. He contacted me with an offer for an apartment at a much lower price in a relatively expensive area. As I read his emails, I realised it was a scam and decided to play along for a bit. After a few emails back and forth, he probably figured out that I was onto him and stopped contacting me.


Beware of fake rental advertisements

Some scams involve ads for apartments that aren't real. These scams show up on big rental websites like Immowelt and immobilienscout24. Scammers try to trick people by advertising apartments at very cheap prices in popular areas.


If the rent seems way lower than other similar places nearby, be careful. Also, check if the apartment details in the ad match the pictures. If they don't match, there is a high chance that the ad might be fake.


Before contacting the landlord and setting up a viewing, do some research about the advertiser, and the area.


A scam that requires paying money upfront

One of the most common way scammers fool you in Germany is, they ask for money upfront. They might tell you to transfer part of the security deposit through PayPal or any similar service to get a viewing. They claim it's to limit viewers and promise a refund if you're not chosen.


No landlords in Germany ask you any money upfront. Therefore, don't pay anything until you sing the contract. Legitimate landlords won't ask for money before that.


Avoid paying in cash unless you're positive the owner is real. Use bank transfers instead. If you pay in cash or through other money transfer services, it's tough to get your money back if things go wrong.


Exploiting your personal information

The fake advertiser who contacted me told me to share my personal details, not to transfer any money. He wanted copies of my passport, visa, pay slips, and bank statements. He also asked for a photo of me holding my passport or ID for the 'verification' process.


Scammers use this info to open bank accounts in your name, take loans, or get credit cards in your name, leaving you in trouble, all without you knowing anything about it!


It's hard to spot these scams early because landlords and real estate agents often ask for some of these documents before making a contract. So, be cautious and only share your personal information if the landlord is trustworthy and really needs them.


Where and how do I report if I've been scammed in Germany

If you think you’ve been scammed, the first thing to do is to report it to the website where you found the advertisement. Most websites like immobilienscout24, immowelt.de offer customer support if you’ve been scammed.


Additionally, there are other places as well where you can report if you think you are in trouble.


It's really important to report scams. Currently, only a small percentage of scams get reported. Remember, reporting online fraud isn't just about trying to recover your money; it's also about supporting law enforcement to combat scammers more effectively.



What are some safe website to find an apartment in Germany?

immobilienscout24 and immowelt.de are the major platforms in Germany to find accommodation. Additionally, you can also try local real estate agents. However, sometimes they have very expensive commission rates, and limited number of properties.


The guide Best websites to find apartments in Germany, should give you everything you need to know about finding your next apartment in Germany.





Template to contact landlords

When you're trying to contact landlords in Germany through websites like Immobilienscout24, Immowelt, or Kleinanzeigen, it's important to be polite and professional. Start by introducing yourself and saying you're interested in their property. Give some details about yourself, like your job and how long you plan to stay. Ask if you can see the place and request more info about important stuff. Keep your message clear and friendly, and don't forget to include your contact details so they can get back to you easily.


You can download a free template in both German as well as in English here. Feel free to customise it according to your requirement.


Moving to Germany checklist

Having a checklist when moving to Germany is really important. It helps you organise everything you need to do before and after arriving. I've already made a very detailed checklist that covers different stages of your move.


It starts with things like making sure you have your visa and work permit sorted, researching the city and neighbourhoods where you'll be living and working, and starting your apartment hunt by researching and shortlisting places.


It also covers the relocation planning phase, focusing on things like giving notices to your service providers, planning your packing and shipping, and making sure your visa and travel documents are in place.


It then moves to important tasks like registering your address and switching to a German residence permit after your arrival. It also talks about financial matters like opening a German bank account, setting up money transfer services, and signing up for a German health care provider. Additionally, it includes tips on getting utilities and services sorted for your apartment and settling in by learning the language, familiarising yourself with the culture, and exploring your new neighbourhood.


This checklist covers a lot of ground to help make your move to Germany as smooth as possible. If you are someone who has recently moved to Germany or planning to move soon, then you should definitely go ahead and download it. It's totally free!


Conclusion

Finding a an apartment in Germany needs careful attention to avoid scams. Fake advertisers use sneaky tactics like fake ads or asking for money upfront. It's crucial to notice warning signs like unusually cheap rents, strange payment requests, or if they ask you for personal information in a not legitimate way.


Before sharing personal info or paying anything, make sure you're dealing with a trustworthy landlord. While using online rental sites is handy, and sometimes only available option, some listings might not be safe. Checking and double-checking details is essential.


Reporting scams not only helps you but also help other who might get into trouble just like you, and helps authorities catch scammers. So, staying alert, doing your research, and being careful can keep you safe from rental scams in Germany.


Frequently asked questions

What are common rental scams in Germany that I should watch out for?

Common rental scams include fake listings, requests for upfront payment without viewing the property, landlords asking for money via untraceable methods, and offers that seem too good to be true.

How can I verify the legitimacy of a rental listing in Germany?

Is it advisable to visit the property before making any payments or signing agreements in Germany?

Should I be cautious if a landlord insists on cash payments or wire transfers without providing receipts or proper documentation?

Can I request official documentation or identification from the landlord or property owner in Germany?

Are there reliable websites or platforms to report suspected rental scams in Germany?

Should I be wary of rental listings that offer significantly lower prices compared to similar properties in the area?

Are there specific warning signs or signals that might indicate a rental scam in Germany?

Can I seek assistance from a real estate agent or legal advisor to avoid rental scams in Germany?

What should I do if I suspect I've encountered a rental scam in Germany?








bottom of page