fraudulent activities - searching for an apartment

Hi to you all good people out there,

For us, expats, finding apartment in "world out there" is one unique experience. In a fast pace learning about the city and its main spots, little secrets and charming corners - and hoping to choose the right one - it can be really challenging.

And here  I am. Right here. Juggling somewhere in between. I would like to share my experience with something I recognize as fraudulent activities.

This is what I wanted to share. i have stumble upon some nice good looking apartments with adorable prices.  The web site I used to search apartments already informed me that for one of them it could be "fraud" - and here I have decided to share the replies I got from alleged owner:

"
Hi,

My name is Christian and i received an email of interest in   renting my apartment. The apartment is available, quiet, has all   facilities and utilities: TV, parking, laundry, air conditioning, high   speed internet, pets are allowed.  The monthly rent is 520 €,  also  important is that the additional costs (water, electricity,  internet,  digital television) are included in the price.  I worked  in Belgium  for 7 years and I bought the apartment with my family to  stay but now I  am back in Italy-Roma and I will not stay there so this  is the reason I  rent it a longer period of time. We do have a solution for this inconvenience so you can move in as soon as possible.
We can offer you more details if you are interested.  For what period do you need?  I would like more information about you if you do not mind.  Thank you for your interest and look forward to a future cooperation and friendship. 
Speaking English is much easier for me.

Kind regards
"

and for an other apartment: same text , different "owner"

"Hi,

My name is Emilio and i received an email of interest in   renting my apartment. The apartment is available, quiet, has all facilities and utilities: TV, parking, laundry, air conditioning, high   speed internet, pets are allowed.  The monthly rent is 580 €,  also  important is that the additional costs (water, electricity,  internet,  digital television) are included in the price.  I worked  in Belgium for 7 years and I bought the apartment with my family to  stay but now I  am back in Italy-Roma and I will not stay there so this  is the reason I  rent it a longer period of time. We do have a solution for this inconvenience so you can move in as soon as possible.
We can offer you more details if you are interested.  For what period do you need?  I would like more information about you if you do not mind.  Thank you for your interest and look forward to a future cooperation and friendship. 
Speaking English is much easier for me.

Kind regards "

Let us just be aware that this is something that can happen and help us learn how to avoid it.

Evergreen scam :)

Next step is him to ask a money transfer via western union as a booking advance :)

Similar to the calls that one may receive saying 'I am from the immigration office. Transfer 2000 euros now via western union or you are out of the country tomorrow, police will come to pick you up, blah blah' :)


As a rule of thumb: Never make any payment before physically seeing the apartment and signing a proper contract. Also, security deposit for a rental in Belgium is done in joint back account (tenant and landlord), never by cash or bank transfer.

Same with the fraudulent calls claiming to be from immigration or consulate. Ask them the office address and tell them you will physically go there and deal with it. Never transfer any money :)

This might not be fraudulent  but I was wondering what this means" No Domiciliation is possible at the commune"? (While searching for an apartment some have this explination or comment)
For me being an expat, how much and how does it affect me?

Thank you guys,

Means you will not be able to register this as your address in the commune. This is not for you, as you need to register the address to get your residence permit.

I found an apartment on immoweb, the agent told me we managed to booked it. (he sends me an sms confirming this). 2 weeks later, he sends me the draft of contract saying it still need to be filled with owner banks account so i can pay the first rent?

I am still not in Brussels, but I was wondering should this happen before we sign the contract?
And is it really a practice here to pay first rent to the owner (agency usually take the first rent amount).

Should I be worried?

They are saying we should open join account once i am there (but now also suggesting I transfer deposit money on owners account before)

http://www.century21capitale.com/ this is the site on immoweb and it doenot work
sales[at]century21-capitale.com  this is the email adress.

its a bit shady for me.
thank you for you help guys.

In general, it is highly unusual for any landlord to leave any property empty when he can get a tenant in, paying rent the next day.  Scammers play on peoples desire for security and low costs, by taking adverts from other sites and placing them on the internet as being available for rent, when in fact the property is not theirs to rent; in a few cases, they were in another country!  There were reports in the press in the UK over the weekend, of such fraudulent adverts on what was previously regarded as reliable sources of quality accommodation.

My opinion is that there is no such thing as good, cheap accommodation; if it's cheap, there is almost certainly a reason for it and you are almost certainly being scammed.

Agree with Cynic here.

Century21 is a very reliable agency here in Belgium. I see that their website address is https://www.century21.be/fr/index

In their website there is an option to find their agency offices in Belgium. You may verify the authenticity this way,.

And in general, I would never rent an apartment or book it (unless it is a service apartment or airbnb) without physically visiting and inspecting it.

Transferring security deposit to owner's account is a total no no. A joint account is the only right and legal way.

And needless to say, never sign any contract with fields left empty :)

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