Don't get scammed: advice when searching for housing online
As you probably already know, the housing market in Copenhagen is extremely difficult and crowded. This affects everyone searching for housing in the city, but in general non-Danish citizens are in greater risk of being scammed by unreliable, greedy or simply non-existing landlords. Each year, particularly in the months July/August, we hear stories of international students being scammed on the private housing market, which is a truly bad start to what should be an exciting stay in a new country.
It is probably utopian to imagine that housing fraud situations can be eradicated all together as long as the housing market in Copenhagen is as tight as it is; nevertheless, there are many things you can do yourself to avoid being scammed. Below you’ll find a useful list of do’s and don’ts when searching for housing online (list borrowed from www.lejebolig.dk):
Check who owns the rental property
If the property you are about to rent is rented out by a private person make sure that the landlord actually has the right to rent it out. Alternatively, you can check who owns the property at www.ois.dk. You can also see if the name in the hallway is different from the name on the door of the apartment/rental property.
Always view the rental property
Always view the rental property before signing the lease or transferring money to the landlord to determine that the property is real. There may be issues with the apartment that you were not made aware of.
Check the rent level
Note that there are rules defining how large your rent can be. You can always get advice at your local rent council (huslejenævn) and they will be able to help you out in case of a rent level issue in court. At the same time always also remember to use your common sense and think twice if the rent seems too low.
Get everything in writing
Note that there are rules defining how large your rental fee can be in Denmark. You will always be able to seek advice about the size of the rent at your local rent council (Huslejenævnet) aswell as they will be able to advice you in a court case. Still, remember your common sense, if the rent seems to low to be true.
Document any defects
Always document the condition of the apartment by taking photos when moving in. If there are defects make sure to inform the landlord in written at the latest 14 days after taking over the lease. You might have to live with the defects but make sure that you inform the landlord from the start of the rental period so that you won't be held liable when moving out again.
Note when subletting
Tenants within the Danish rental market are protected by the rental law no matter what written and oral agreements one might have made. But if you are about to rent a co-op or a sublet, be sure to ask for a written consent from the board of the co-op or the owner of the property. Also note that if the landlord himself is a tenant of the property, you will automatically become a subletter and thus you don't have the same protection under the Danish rental law.
Make sure that the property is consistent with the rental contract
If the landlord shows you a different property than the one you a supposed to rent, be hesitant with signing the rental contract and transferring money for the deposit.
Make sure to go through the property
Make sure that you review the property and that the landlord is present. You have 14 days from taking over the lease to making any written oppositions regarding any defects. Take photos of the property when moving in, as these will help you document the condition of the property.
Never pay by cash
Never pay a cash amount at a property viewing or when signing a rental contract. Instead make sure that the amount to be paid is being transferred to a Danish bank account. In that way you will always be able to proof that you have paid a deposit or prepaid rent. Don't pay anything before you are sure, who the landlord is and that all issues regarding the lease are ok.
Never pay via a foreign bank or money transfer service
Never pay a deposit or rent to a foreign bank account or a landlord you have not met. Never pay via online payment services og international wire transfer services where the transaction cannot be drawn back, e.g. Western Union.
Don't accept landlord pressure
Be alert if the landlord pressures you to sign a lease. Always use your common sense and never accept to be pressured into a tenancy. If the landlord tries to put pressure on you or if the conditions regarding the tenancy seems too good to be true, something probably isn't as it should be.
Don't be too critical
Especially in August and September the demand for rental properties is larger than the number of vacant properties. Therefore don't be too critical about the location of the properties etc. Most important for most part is to find a new place and when having that the search can be done in a less stressful period. Therefore use your common sense but don't be too critical in relation to what's available on the market.
Never pay money under the table
Never pay money without a receipt. It is illegal (money under the table) and legally you will not be able to get your money back.
Don't pay too much in deposit and prepaid rent
Note that there are rules for maximum deposit and prepaid rent in Denmark. The deposit can as a maximum be 3 months rent usage not included. Prepaid rent can as a maximum be 3 months rent including usage.
Be aware of landlords located abroad
Be aware of landlords who are located abroad and do not speak Danish. It might be a sign of frauds, who are trying to trick you to pay money for alleged deposits or the like.