Danger when looking for real estate: scammers ‘rent’ other people’s apartments in Vienna

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Rental fraudsters are currently offering cheap apartments in Vienna on real estate platforms that don’t even belong to them. In reality, the apartments are only rented online on Airbnb for a short period of time. The injured parties fight for deposits and repayments.

Anyone currently looking for a rental apartment in Vienna should be careful: there is currently a serial fraudster on the loose – maybe there are two or three – offering apartments on online real estate portals (mainly willhaben.at) that none of them are not even his. In reality, he only rents it out for a short period via the online booking platform Airbnb. He then hires people, for example students, who – without knowing that they are involved in a scam – show the apartments during viewing appointments. To appear professional, the crook also looks for real estate companies that actually exist, but are not represented on the Internet, and builds fake websites under their names.

When the keys are handed over, interested parties stand in front of a closed door
Because everything seems serious, more and more Viennese and people from the federal states who move to Vienna fall into the trap. Because the rent offered is usually relatively low, interested parties are put under pressure to quickly pay the deposit, a replacement fee for the furniture and, for example, the first month’s rent. When the keys are handed over, they stand in front of closed doors – no one comes and they lose their money. The website will then be deleted and all specified contacts will no longer work.

Elke Hanel-Torsch, chairman of the Vienna Tenants’ Association, recommends “paying only upon delivery of the apartment.” If the deposit is requested in advance, “as a tenant you should become suspicious”! In any case, you should never allow yourself to be pressured into making a down payment quickly. And for commercial landlords, says Hanel-Torsch, you have to take into account: “The fact that a landlord sells furniture to you as a tenant is an exception. Furnished apartments usually require furniture rental.”

When the alarm bells should ring
If you want information about a real estate company, you can look here by entering the domain name. If the website has only recently been created or changed – you can see this under ‘changed’ – then the alarm bells should be ringing.

Gerald Gollenz, chairman of the WKÖ Association of Real Estate and Asset Trustees, also warns: “Without the support of qualified real estate agents, tenants are hopelessly at the mercy of the market with all its disadvantages. This has increasingly expensive and dramatic consequences as the number of frauds in the rental housing market increases. It is not uncommon for tenants to pay a deposit and leave their old apartment because of a non-existent fraudulent offer.”

Source: Krone

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