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University of Copenhagen
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Easy student victims in overheated Copenhagen housing market

Ruthless housing scammers are exploiting a desperate Copenhagen housing situation. And students, in particular international students, are easy prey. 30 students have so far reported to the police

“It drives you to despair. It just shows how desperate the housing situation really is”.

So says police commissioner Asger Jensen about the number of students that have been conned by ruthless housing swindlers this summer in Copenhagen.

30 students have reported to the police in the Danish capital that they have rented an apartment or room which either turned out not to exist, had already been rented out to someone else, or which the landlord didn’t even own.

“The scam often happens online. The student only sees photos of the apartment and is asked to transfer the deposit to a foreign bank account. The alarm bells should ring but the students still pay because they are desperate,” says Asger Jensen.

Internationals more trusting

The police commissioner adds that international students are popular prey among the scammers because they are trusting and don’t know the Danish legal system.

“Thousands of new young ‘customers’ come to Copenhagen in the summer to study, so this happens every year in July and August,” says Asger Jensen.

He urges students never to pay a deposit without inspecting the apartment and signing a rental contract first.

City is growing

According to Claus Højte, director of tenants´ union (LLO) in Copenhagen, is it the expanding city which is giving rise to the scams and con jobs.

1,000 new inhabitants move to Copenhagen each month and only 20 new apartments are being constructed. A typical con method is to rent out the same apartment to 15 to 20 different people who pay around DKK 20,000 each in deposit. When they want to move in it turns out that the person who rented them the apartment doesn’t have the right to dispose of the place and someone else lives there already.

“The students are desperate to find a place to live so they overlook all the warning signs. There is a whole industry in Copenhagen specializing in renting out to foreigners because they are more reluctant to report the fraud to the police and don’t know the Danish housing laws,” Claus Højte says.

Sometimes, even those who find a place to rent often end up getting cheated, he adds.

The tenants´ union (LLO) says that nine out ten students who rent a privately-owned apartment pay a higher rent than they are supposed to according to Danish legislation, but this is not a matter for the police.

The tenant should complain to the rent assessment board instead.

Risk getting evicted

Another problem being reported by international students is that many landlords do not accept that the tenants register their postal address at the room or apartment they are renting.

But without an address you can´t get a civil registration number (CPR number) in Denmark and without CPR you are only allowed to stay in the country for three months.

Police commissioner Asger Jensen urges the students to avoid renting a place on these terms.

Most often these landlords are renting the apartment themselves and they are not allowed to sublease it by the real owner.

In other cases the person renting out a room is receiving social benefits from the government which will be cancelled if they have an income from renting it out. Therefore they try to hide it.

“No matter how you look at it, it is the student who risks ending up in trouble. If you don’t have a lease where you can register your address, you can get evicted,” he says.

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