Expats in Amsterdam urged to watch out for rental scams

Published:  10 Jan at 6 PM
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Dutch public prosecutors are recommending an Amsterdam court should jail a conman accusing of scamming foreign students and expats.

Amsterdam’s prosecution department are now aware of a further 41 complaints against a fraudster who was first arrested two years ago for the same scam. Posing as a real estate rental agent, Mohammed Malik offered rentals via Facebook using many false names, taking expats on viewings and demanding a deposit, commission and one month’s rent. Victims were later informed the rental couldn’t be done just before the fraudster disappeared with his victims’ cash.

According to the prosecution, the fraudster chose expats as most are not aware of the rental system and can’t speak Dutch. His scam was made all too easy by the chronic shortage of rental property in the city and the high prices of available apartments. Over the past five years, Amsterdam has seen a huge increase in the numbers of expats arriving to take up jobs, start their own businesses or work as digital nomads. Also, there’s a crucial shortage of homes available to locals as prices have soared to unaffordable levels for the majority.

For expat professionals and students still determined to live in Amsterdam, flat sharing is an economic option although it, too, has its disadvantages. In the city, sharing with more than two unrelated others is illegal unless a license is granted, and leases must be in just one name, meaning that should the signee decide to leave, the entire deal is cancelled. One exception to this ruling is offered by housing corporations and is a ‘friends’ lease allowing every occupant to sign the lease. If you’re arriving to study in Amsterdam, the news isn’t much better, even though designated student accommodation, shared flats and fraternity houses are available.
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