As a foreign student in Paris, France, it’s important to get comfortable, safe, and affordable accommodation in a great location if you are to continue your studies abroad. But finding the perfect apartment can be a difficult task that requires a ton of your time and effort.
There are high levels of competition for all the best apartments. Not to mention the countless scams from fraudsters looking to relieve you of your cash when you are confused and vulnerable. Your adventure in a new city can quickly turn into a nightmare if you fall prey to a rental scam.
In this article, we take a look at some simple, yet extremely effective tips to help you detect such scams and offer advice on how you can avoid rental scams when hunting for an apartment in the city.
What Exactly are Rental Scams?
Rental scams are any type of fraudulent activity by an individual or a group of individuals who claim to have a property for rent that does not belong to them. In some cases, the property could be theirs, but the place is different from what was advertised.
These types of scams are a wide variation on a specific theme, and the main goal in such a scam situation is to collect money from prospective tenants without providing the actual property that was advertised. The money they collect can be in the form of:
- Application fees
- Pet fees
- Security deposits
And so on
An Example of a Rental Scam
A scammer might be someone without any legal authority to rent out a real apartment, such as a tenant who is vacating their apartment but decides to show it and pretend to be the landlord. They might lead prospects to believe they are getting the apartment, collect fees, security deposits, and rentals upfront, before disappearing into thin air with the money.
In order to avoid rental scams in Paris, France, it’s vital to know certain red flags to watch out for when hunting for your new apartment.
Red Flags to Watch out to Avoid Rental Scams
1. They do not want to meet in person
This is a great way to help you identify a rental scam. If your landlord doesn’t want to meet you, it’s likely because they have something to hide. Scammers in this instance may say that they cannot meet with you because they are out of town on a business trip, on vacation abroad, or any other such excuse. Some scammers have even been known to lie about being in the military in order to avoid setting up a meeting with apartment hunters.
They might even offer to lower the rental fees to ‘make up for your inconvenience’ – an offer which is often tempting to those seeking affordable accommodation in the city. A good landlord always meets with their potential apartment renters because renting your property to someone is a major decision that requires trust.
Any legitimate landlord will, therefore, want to meet you in order to make that determination for themselves. A scammer, on the other hand, won’t want to meet you as they don’t want you to be able to identify and report them.
- When you meet with the landlord, ask for documents of homeownership to prove that you are dealing with the person who has the rights to rent the place out.
Only sign the lease after you have seen this documentation and make sure that your lease also identifies the owner, too.
2. They want you to rent the place without seeing it first
Never sign a lease, pay a deposit, or any other fees before you see the apartment. If the landlord wants you to rent the place or move in immediately without you ever seeing the place, that’s a massive red flag. In such instances, scammers use hard-selling techniques, saying that the rental is very popular, that there are lots of potential applicants, and that you need to act fast to secure it for yourself.
Even after you’ve met in person with the person claiming to be the landlord, you still need to see the property for rent before signing a lease or paying any money. It’s very easy for someone fake listings, so you need to ensure the place really is available before taking the next step.
In some rental scams, the individual claiming to be the landlord might not have access to the inside of the apartment, and the best they can do is ask you to walk around and view it from the outside. If this happens, you’re likely being scammed – run!
3. They want to deal in cash
Dealing in cash is always a bad idea when apartment hunting in France. That’s because cash is the easiest and most popular way for scammers to perform their shady operations. When you hand over real euros, that money is untraceable and there can never be any proof that the transaction actually took place if there is ever a dispute.
A scammer will insist on you paying cash, and if you refuse, they just move on to their next target. If you are dealing with a legitimate landlord, they shouldn’t mind having an electronic trail showing that you paid them a specific amount of money for their property. Avoid paying in cash for things such as security deposit, last month upfront, etc. as these are a major part of these types of scams.
4. They don’t have a proper written lease
Another reason for concern is when the landlord cannot provide a properly written lease. Never settle for a verbal agreement. If you ever need to take your case to court, you’ll have a hard time proving anything – this applies even to states that do allow this type of contract. Make sure that the lease contract is signed by both the homeowner and the tenant. If it’s a physical contract, also make sure that:
- Both parties sign the lease in each other’s presence soon after the decision to rent the apartment
- Both the tenant and the landlord get a copy of the contract
Another red flag when dealing with a rental scammer is when they don’t request you to provide all the proper documentation typically expected when someone rents a property in France. This includes photo identification, bank statements, proof of income, proof of employment or study, a statement from your guarantor if you don’t have your own income, or any other important background information.
Even worse than having an unprofessional rental agreement is when a landlord tries to convince you that you don’t need a lease at all. You need a lease before renting an apartment, and if your landlord cannot provide one, it’s time to look elsewhere.
The Bottom Line
These are just a few of the most common rental scams happening in Paris, France, and if you take the time to educate yourself on the ways to spot red flags, you will be less likely to be the victim of a rental scam on your next hunt for the perfect apartment in France.
If you are looking for a student apartment near your university, don’t hesitate to contact Paris Attitude !