Caution with suspicious rental bargains
Searching for a new flat can be frustrating. A cheap offer on one of the many platforms online is therefore tempting. Nevertheless, caution is required.
A big apartment in the city centre of Vienna for only 640€ total rent. If it sounds too good to be true, it is very likely to be fraud. It's been a strategy for years - and recently, such dubious offers increased again. Many consumers are tempted by shady providers and often lose a lot of money as a result.
The procedure is often alike: The advertisment appears on well-known and popular online platforms and looks like every other. What makes it special, is the extraordinary cheap price.
If the consumer contacts the stated mail address, he often gets an answer in broken German or in English. The alleged landlord tells him that he lives abroad and that he bought the flat is for one of his children. But the child is back home and therefore he wants to sublet the flat as soon as possible, which explains the low price.
The consumers are told to decide quickly. An intermediary will handle everything else, like the handover of the keys to the tenant and of the money to the landlord. This intermediary might be a firm that actually exists and is also known to be professional. But if the provider actually cooperates with them is another question.
The shady provider request a deposit and promise to reserve the apartment for the consumer in return. As soon as the consumer transfers the money, the provider disappears.
Important note: Never transfer money before you were able to visit the flat! The alleged landlord often seems to be very forthcoming and kind. But you need to stay careful.