Unfortunately, there are people who will try to take advantage of students desperate to find accommodation.
These people are called scammers and aim to steal your money or your identity. Scammers misuse the fact that there is a high demand for student accommodations. Since many prospective students are rather unfamiliar with the market, they are more vulnerable to be scammed. When searching for accommodation it is recommended not to act on emotions and always check for reliability.
Rental Fraud is a form of online fraud where scammers advertise fake offers to lure you into sending then money or a copy of your passport. You can recognize such scams by minding these points:
- Too good to be true
The offered room, studio, or apartment is usually on a great location for a really affordable price.
- Fake advertisement
Frauds open an account on a regular and genuine platform offering (student) rooms. They publish an advertisement offering an attractive room on an existing address, which is usually close to the university. The advertisement has nice pictures (often copied from websites of real estate agencies when the same room was for sale in the past).
- Means of communication
After having established contact on a genuine housing platform, a scammer will ask to continue communication outside the platform through email or Skype. Notice that they will not answer your questions clearly or will ignore them. They are usually not fluent in Dutch and use a text that was translated online (Google Translate).
- Fake website
A scammer may send you a fake website that looks reliable or is a fake copy of a well-known housing website. The URL is usually different from the original website. Make sure it is a secure and reliable website.
- Personal approach
If you asked for a room in an advertisement or on posted anything on popular social media sites, scammers may also approach you personally.
- Currently not in the Netherlands
When you contact the person offering the room they usually come up with a story that they currently are not in Delft or in The Netherlands. They indicate that they cannot meet you and you cannot view the room in advance. However, they may suggest to alternatively bring you into contact with a future housemate if you give them your email address.
After exchanging several emails, your landlord/lady will kindly ask you to send a copy of your passport and to pay a deposit 'to show that you are genuinely interested' and 'to reserve the room till the start of the academic year'. He or she may send you a copy of a passport (which is not his/her own), to 'proof' that they are 'not one of those frauds that the university warns against'.
Lastly, payments are asked to transfer to a non-Dutch bank account since the landlord/lady is outside the Netherlands, and it is mentioned that after the payment you will never hear from the landlord/lady again.
- Money Transfer request through semi-anonymous services
A scammer will ask you to pay a deposit on the property and maybe some months advanced rent before you have viewed the accommodation. Usually semi-anonymous money transfer services will be used like Western Union and MoneyGram. They do this because money transfers are not always traceable via these services. Alternatively, they may ask you to send money by TNT or UPS and suggest to send you the keys upon receiving the money.
- Emotional manipulation
A scammer may try to emotionally manipulate you. They could do this by making up a sad story to make you believe their excuses or on the other extreme they may sound very nice and eager to have you rent the property. Another way a scammer may try to manipulate you is by pressuring you to sign quickly.
How to protect yourself?
There are several measures you can take to protect yourself against becoming a victim of rental fraud:
- NEVER trust an offer that is too good to be true: it most likely is...
- You will never find a decent room in Delft that is cheaper than 250 euro per month.
- And student rooms usually do not look like hotel rooms; notice for instance the water cooker and price list on the door.
- NEVER trust people who claim not to be able to arrange a viewing
- Don’t trust Landlords/ladies who claim not to be able to arrange a viewing because 'they are not in the Netherlands' or 'doing an internship' somewhere far away.
- Scammers generally operate outside the Netherlands, where the Dutch police cannot do anything against these kinds of schemes.
- NEVER send landlords/ladies a copy of your passport, unless:
- you have checked their identity thoroughly
- you have marked the copy for this special occasion ("for rental contract <address> only"). This makes it much harder for frauds to misuse your identity.
- NEVER pay money to 'lawyers' or obscure agencies
- In The Netherlands lawyers do not rent out rooms.
- Genuine agencies should always have a decent website with at least a phone number (and often an address). Check them on Google as well.
- NEVER transfer money to Western Union, PayPal accounts or to foreign accounts
- Only pay through regular bank accounts of the owner or renting organization in the Netherlands. You will have a better chance of getting your money back in case of fraud.
- ALWAYS check the address that is on offer
- Search on Google or funda.nl whether the house is for sale (and not for rent); scammers often steal pictures from websites of genuine real estate agencies.
- If possible have someone who is already in Delft (like a enrolled student friend) view the room on your behalf.
- Google whether an address or name has been used before in a fraud scheme.
- Check whether (interior) photographs fit with the house shown on Google Streetview / Maps.
- ALWAYS ask the person offering a room to provide a telephone number after the initial email contact
- Land line phone numbers in Delft and Pijnacker always start with 015 (or +31-15... when the country code 31 of the Netherlands is added); numbers in The Hague begin with 070 (or +31-70) and numbers in Schiedam and Rotterdam with 010 (or +31-10). Dutch mobile phones always have a 06 / +31-6... number.
- If people refuse to give you a phone number, even after several contacts by email, they apparently have something to hide. We strongly advise you to break off further contact.
Please report any suspicious advertisement URLs and frauds by emailing to TU Delft.
Contact person: Several
Case: We have received several cases where students were scammed via online offers through this website. Please be careful when using this platform.
- Julianalaan 2a, Delft
Contact person: Esmee (full name not mentioned due to privacy).
Case: In 2011 the person offering the room pretended to be a regular TU Delft student Esmee. However, she had nothing to do with this fraud; she was a victim herself. Her identity was stolen while she probably searched for a room herself in France as an Exchange student.
- Nieuwstraat 16, Delft
Contact person: Bram Semeijn or Marleen Stam
Case: In 2012 the address was offered via several, in themselves reliable, sites like Kamernet.nl. Contact person was according to internet a freelance journalist from Utrecht who was using the email address email@example.com. Bram and Marleen claimed that the room was for sub rent because he/she worked as a welder in the UK. After some research it was clear that only the entire house was possible to be rented through a real estate agency. The real estate agency had never heard of any Mr Semeijn nor a Ms Stam.
- Lodewijk van Deysselhof 92
Contact person: a Chinese woman
Case: Allegedly on Chinese sites like gogodutch.com a Chinese woman (pretending to live in Belgium) was offering a room for sub rent on this address. No room seemed to be available; the address was the apartment of an interior design office. Other people who rented through this lady report never got their deposit refunded.
- Oude Delft 100, Delft
Contact person: Cuit Frederick
Case: This room was offered by a guy who 'just relocated to Davao city in the Philippines’. He asked for a deposit via Money Gram and has both a Facebook and Gmail account. The photos he sent never matched the address on Google Street view.
- Brabantse Turfmarkt 60, Delft
Contact person: Mayron Gaal and Eren
Case: On kamernet.nl this room with kitchen and bathroom was offered by someone who called himself Mayron Gaal who claimed to live in the UK. He asked a student to sign a (good) contract and to pay a deposit and first months’ rent because he needs the money to pay for hospital bills (as his wife just gave birth). A few days before the start of the tenancy agreement, Mayron claimed that he could not come to the Netherlands and therefore asked his friend (Eren) to show the room and hand the keys. This is an existing rental property which is explicitly not available to students.
- Adriaan Pauwstraat 12, Delft
Contact person: Jacob Simon
Case: Offers a very well-priced apartment of 78 m2 on Facebook under the name ‘Dalare Tun’. The contact person claims not to be in the Netherlands but offers to Skype with a German sounding account name, and offers to show pictures instead of arranging a viewing. Further research showed that the size of the apartment was incorrect.
- Harmenkokslaan 22, Delft
Contact person: Jennifer
Case: Advertising a complete furnished house through Rooming.nl or Roombase.nl for just 550 euros per month in 2019. She claims to live abroad in the UK and asks to transfer the first month rent money and deposit to book the accommodation for you.