How to rent an apartment without getting scammed

Scammers often try to make desperate flat searchers pay for a seemingly great apartment offer – which in reality does not exist. Here are’s tips how to rent an apartment without getting scammed.

Never ever pay your rent or a deposit before via Western Union! Dr. Miller just sent you the third very long and polite email explaining why he cannot personally show you his apartment? And that he will sublet the flat (which is very central) and below its market price because he really needs someone watering his plants? That he will have his real estate agency send you the key as soon as you send him the deposit via Western Union?

Do not even consider it! Never send your apartment rent or deposit via Western Union – it’s the easiest way for the scammer to collect your money and get away with it. Even if the story sounds just SO convincing and you need an apartment really bad, do not fall for it.

Only pay if you are sure the landlord is real and reliable. Serious landlords or real estate agencies will ask you to pay the rental deposit to a blocked account. The rent will be paid after you have visited the apartment and signed a rental contract.

If it sounds to good, it’s not true. Often it’s easy to spot apartment scams. I go trough the apartment and room offers on regularly in order to spot ads from scammers. It’s usually quite easy. Basically they just sound too good to be true. Here are a few examples:

Rental flat in Zurich: A 2-room apartment, 2 min walking distance from the main station for the price of 980 Swiss francs, fully furnished with luxury furniture.

If you see 2 room apartments in Zurich or Geneva below 1000 Swiss francs – be at least skeptical! If the apartment is in the very center, furnished and very big: forget it, it’s a scam!

Another example:

Flat share in Geneva: Luxury 3.5 apartment, in the city center close to the lake, 450 Swiss francs, available immediately from one month to long term.

Another characteristic of housing scams is that they offer a high degree of flexibility: available from one month to unlimited is suspicious. If it comes together with a very low price, a future flatmate who is not in town at the moment and a great location – it’s likely to be a scam.

Did you have any experiences with apartment scams? Please share it with the FfE community so the same won’t happen to others. Don’t be ashamed if you fell for a scam – we all know how tempting it is to believe the scam stories if you are desperately looking for a place – share your story!


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