Protect yourself against housing scams

7 February 2023

Are you Looking for affordable housing in the Maastricht Region? Would you like to know how to avoid being scammed? Housing scams are something that unfortunately happen, especially when looking for  student accommodation. Michèle La Fontaine of La Fontaine estate agents shares some of her expert tips.

‘Recently, I had a client, a student, who did not trust the situation they were facing and asked for my help. The “agent” worked flawlessly  and the “owner” was someone who was also unaware that their details were potentially being misused for the transaction. A young woman of 24 was said to be the owner of an inner-city property. Such a thing is highly unlikely.’

What can you do?

Check the kadaster (land registry): In the kadaster, you can see who the owner is and whether that is the same name as what is in the contract. It costs a few euro but the information is reliable. Only info from the kadaster is real, all other documents are fake.

Google Street View: Do a search on Google Maps. Does the address really exist on Street View? Explore the neighbourhood, maybe you can ask a shop/restaurant etc.. nearby if they know anything about that address?

Watch out for cash: Paying cash on the spot is always tricky. Who are you making the payment to? To an owner, to an estate agent? Can those persons be traced?

KopieID: What we sometimes do as estate agents is, the moment we find a prospective tenant we have only met online, is to ask for a secure copy of their identification document (ID). This can be done in the Netherlands using the KopieID app. Then we ask the prospective tenant to take a photo of themselves with their face next to their ID. At least then we can see if the person with the document is also the person we are doing business with. It is not 100% foolproof, however it does add an extra layer of security.

'Other than that, it is also a matter of using your common sense.'

La Fontaine offers help and advice on renting accommodation in the Maastricht Region. Even if they don't have anything in their portfolio for you themselves, they will help look for other possibilities. For more information, check their website.

More information about housing scams and red flags can be found at MyMaastricht.

What can you  do if you find yourself in a rental dispute? Read this earlier article 'Help with disputes in rental properties'

Photo © Maastricht Marketing
La Fontaine Makelaardij