Accommodation in Indonesia: scams you should look out for


Committing to renting or buying accommodation when you’re new to or have not moved to Indonesia just yet is always a stressful endeavour. Would you like to help us in putting together a handbook of what to look out for when house hunting in Indonesia?

What are the most common scams in Indonesia?

What are the red flags to look out for when scanning through adverts?

Is there a list of registered or accredited landlords or real estate agencies in Indonesia?

What authorities should be sought should one come across an accommodation scam?

Please share your experience,


Rules (Buying)

If you have a prenup that excludes you from owning any property held in marriage, your Indonesian spouse can buy legally.

Some foreigners with a PT PMA can buy legally in the company's name (Forget trying to set up a company in order to buy legally - It won't work)

If you are a foreign single or couple, you can't buy any landed property, except as stated above.

Foreigners can buy some flats, but these are minimum price limited and are likely to be hard to resell.

NEVER buy on a nominee scheme. These are illegal as they attempt to get around the law by having a local's name on the deeds, but there's always the risk the local can sell out from under you and you can't go to court to defend an illegal deal.  The scam estate agent defend this by telling you all about how land can't be sold without the green book, but little details like that hardly matter and you have zero legal options to sort out the 100% loss you could easily find yourself with.

Anything priced in US dollars is illegal, and usually aimed at expats or tourists with a lot more money than idea.


NEVER even look at places priced in US$ - Illegal and aimed at expats with more cash than experience

ALWAYS check prices as many agents publish different prices on each media - I've seen many ads aimed at one group have a higher price quoted than the same ad aimed at another

ALWAYS check prices of places in the same building before you meet the agent - Lots of agents so lots of prices.

ASK yourself one question - Could a local on a local salary afford the place? If not, it's probably a rip off.

ALWAYS get a written contract that clearly states which party is responsible for repairs, termination dates, and with rental price and deposit clearly shown.

A lot of private landlords dislike returning the deposit - If you're concerned, miss the last electricity bill and so on to the value of the deposit.

Many landlords ask for a two year contract, but they'll almost always give you the discounted two year price if you hold out for only one year.

Try to visit the property when raining. If there's a leak, more than a few landlords will tell you it's your problem and you're expected to pay.

Photograph any damage to the property at the time of renting so the landlord can't claim you did it and charge you.

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