When apartments are leased there are often great interests at stake for both the tenant and the landlord. It is common for landlords to demand insurance before the beginning of the lease term and often there are large sums of money at stake, in the form of insurance or prepaid rental fee. In most cases the contracts are signed after the tenant has got to see the apartment. That is the normal process and the most secure one. It is very risky for a residential tenant who has not been able to see the apartment to make a rental agreement and even more dangerous to pay the rental fee before the contract has been signed and the apartment checked carefully.
This short article will focus on some things that tenants must keep in mind before signing contracts and delivering payments to the landlord. In some cases people simply pretend to own apartments and advertise them as their own, without authority. Sometimes photographs of the apartments are taken from the Internet and the address mentioned in the advertisement doesn't even exist.
Is the advertiser really the owner of the apartment?
It's always good to make sure that the person who says he owns the apartment is really the owner. By checking whether the person is really the notarised owner of the apartment, you can make sure that the person is not acting under false pretences.
Is the apartment actually in Iceland?
In many cases, landlords have sent photographs of the apartments to the tenant before they pay the rental fee. These photographs can sometimes be fakes and sometimes you can see through the plot. This may for example result from the design of the apartment, which is not in any way Icelandic. It is also important to get the exact address of the apartment and thus being able to check whether the housing is in habitable condition. In some cases tenants have paid rent for apartments that are still under construction and in some cases only the building foundations exist.
Is the rental fee too good to be true?
The price that the landlord demands for the advertised apartment can in some cases come as a warning that the advertisement is a fraud. If for example a 130 square meter apartment in centre Reykjavík is advertised for 100,000 ISK per month, then it is likely that the ad is too good to be true. In one case, an individual had advertised an apartment like that, and said he was too old to be able to take advantage of his apartment in Iceland. Therefore he would have to rent it out, and would not want to make the rental fee too high, in the hope of getting good tenants. When the case was investigated further it was revealed that the individual was a fraudster and had advertised the same apartment on countless websites around the world. He had only changed “Iceland” to some other country, depending on where he was advertising the apartment.
Does something come up when you search for the wording of the ad on the internet?
Often, you can check for fraud in by taking whole sentences from the ad and put them in the search engines online. Those who engage in fraud in this manner are usually using the same advertisement on a number of people at the same time. On the internet there are many websites where the tenants who have been cheated, warn other people and publish the fraud letters or ads – to warn others.