German landlords letting to an Englishwoman

27 posts in this topic

Posted

Hi there, I hope some of You can help me with your experiences. My family is letting rooms in my grandparent's house, and one of the tenants-to-be is English. We would love to give her a home, but the process does feel strange to us and I'm just not sure whether that is due to different procedures or whether there is really something strange about it. I'll just give you the facts:

- She reacted to a German internet site (immobilienscout24.de). She sent private emails, just giving her name. No adress, no telefone number or other contact data. Her emails were clearly translated by some computer programme (until I took over and wrote in English, my father was too insecure of his English). Very friedly texts, but rather personal. She sent private pictures, too. Right from the beginning, she stated she wanted the room whatever happens, and that she would not visit before. She never asked about a contract or agreement or any official documents that give her (and us) a little security.

- She states to be on a business project til december 2014. We do not know the name of her company or any business details. But apparently the company pays for her trip, as my parents received a cheque for the total rent (3800 pounds, she says from the finance director of her company). No sign of a company name or sender on the cheque (a natwest cheque with a stamp from marble arch).

- She does not really answer questions. For example, there are two rooms available, and I asked her which one she preferred. No reaction. Also, the amount for the security deposit is not included in the sum on the cheque, and she didn't even comment on it.

- Facebook or the rest of the internet do not know her at all.

I really don't want to do the girl any wrong. And there's no real risk in there for us - ok, the cheque could be stopped within six weeks, but in case she then would already be living here, we could try to straighten things out with her (just worst case thinking). But is that normal? Does one just send cheques out to another country, without any contracts or stuff? How is the renting process going in London (that's where she's supposedly from)? Do you have any experiences that could help me? Thanks in advance! Katharina

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Posted

It's she acting odd because that's how she is, not because she's English.

Tell her that if she does not respond by <date> to your questions she is off the list of prospectives. Don't forget to return the check.

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Posted

I'm with El Jeffo, this sounds very much like a scam, and Sarabyrd's suggestion is the best way to deal with it.

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Posted

Well, I'm English and I've lived in London and that is definitely not the usual process for renting a flat in London. I would not pay over £3,800 without a contract. It's also very strange that she hasn't given you her address in the UK or any details about her company if they're paying the rent for her.

This is nothing to do with differences in procedures or cultural differences, this is plain odd. I agree that it sounds very much like a scam and I'd follow Sarabyrd's suggestion. Ask her for more details, send her a contract and give her a date to respond by. If she doesn't respond, then it's bye bye!

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Posted

It was smart of you to take the precaution of joining TT and asking though.

I, for one, am proud to be part of a community that has been promoted to a 'precaution' from just a bunch of nutty folks that give advice (good and bad) and make witty comments (good and bad). Good for us! Now let's get to work on solving global warming... :P

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Posted

You helped a lot, thanks. Good to know I did not plain misjudge her. I already told her that I need a copy or scan of her passport/identity card for the personal data and the address of her company. And I asked which one would be in the contract.

And: we could definitively not refund the cheque, should it proove real (not that I would not want to give back money I have no right to have, but I have to have things to be able to give them back). The cheque was taken to the bank this morning, and they didn't complain about it at first sight, so we'll see what happens. But they told my father that the sender has six weeks to take his money back without giving any reason, and that they will not book the money on our account until then. So if she's not showing up, it's up to them to take the money back. We'll just not transfer ist to any unknown bank account or by western union.

Really thanks to you all. You helped a lot.

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Posted

That definitely sounds like the age old cheque scam. If she asks for some of the money back, it's definitely that. Don't part with any money whatsoever.

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Posted

The cheque was taken to the bank this morning, and they didn't complain about it at first sight, so we'll see what happens.

You mean you submitted the cheque to be credited to your acount despite enough alarm bells sounding for you to ask on this forum?

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Posted

You mean you submitted the cheque to be credited to your acount despite enough alarm bells sounding for you to ask on this forum?

Why not? Can't hurt, can it? the most important thing in this whole affair is:

Don't part with any money whatsoever.

Under any circumstances.

It doesn't seem that they've overpaid, which is the usual MO, but I bet "she"'ll suddenly back out of the deal and ask for the whole amount back.

Do not send "her" any money at all, especially over dodgy methods like western union

The money might show up on your bank, but that's the beauty of the scam, it'll be taken away. Don't trust your bank balance!

EDIT: I seem to have restated what you've already said a couple of posts back. Reading comprehension fail. But the bold might make it easier to read for future reference so I'll let it stand.

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Posted

Hi there, just to explain, my father did take the cheque to the bank this morning before I postet this thread. It just felt strange. It is, however, a very good advice to send a copy of the cheque to the natwest manager. I will take care of this. Lets see what they reply.

And no, we will not part with the money ;-) If it should show up on our account (and the bank does not book this for six weeks, even if the cheque is valid), and anybody wants it back, we will only transfer stuff via IBAN. The normal way of 'Auslandsüberweisung', no cheques anymore.

I can only repeat: Thanks!

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Posted

Please let us know the outcome.

I would be very surprised if the check was genuine (the forgeries usually are very good, so bank staff don't have any idea until it's rejected by the clearing center).

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Posted

My question is why you or your father would even consider renting to someone who is so vague and uncommunicative.

Are there no more prospects out there with addresses, ID's and proof of income?

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Posted

When she contacts you to say she has overpaid (and she will) just say "that's OK we can pay you back in Euros when you arrive here" she will never arrive, of course.

Be warned these scammers can be unbelievably annoying with persistent phone calls and emails. There will be a lot of stuff about 'oh but I closed that account and now you have to pay the money into a different account' Don't listen, don't negotiate. The best you can hope is that they quickly realise you are not going to cooperate and cancel the cheque.

Sorry your father got caught up in this. They prey on the nice people.

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Posted

By the way the British police are not interested in online scams than involve less than 50,000 pounds (German police are probably the same), and banks usually don't care much about these things, either. Inform the banks, of course, but don't expect either to take much interest in the case.

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Posted

I can't imagine why anyone would want to rent to someone they haven't met in person, or at least someone on the level who can vouch for the potential tenant, i.e., the employer.

Scammers with false lettings are known to use the online sites, so it is not suprising that a scammer posing as a potential tenant would troll for possible victims there as well.

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Posted

Sounds like a repeat of what happened to me almost 7 years ago! Can't tell you what that cost me! So no...it's too shady...stay far, far away.

Kris

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Posted

Just to add another point regarding the cheque....doesn't it usually cost quite a lot to pay a sterling cheque in a German bank account?

I agree with others here. Ask for all the details saying you need it to draw up the tenancy agreement with a given deadline.

Good luck

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Posted

Copy/paste here extracts from her emails, probably she is not a native English speaker.

P.S., Did she end her emails with some "God bless you"-like sentences?

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Posted

Tell her you presented the cheque and the bank said it bounced.see how many they send you. A friend of mine reported 8 credit cards whose details had been copied that way. They just kept sending new numbers :) .

In a couple of weeks time she will tell you she cannot come can you send the money back keep half for your trouble.

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Posted

Tell her you presented the cheque and the bank said it bounced.see how many they send you. A friend of mine reported 8 credit cards whose details had been copied that way. They just kept sending new numbers .

In a couple of weeks time she will tell you she cannot come can you send the money back keep half for your trouble.

Knowingly handling stolen cheques may in itself be a crime (Im not a lawyer, but I suspect it could be handling stolen goods, or one of the myriad money laundering rules) so its probably best not to ask for more. Yes officer, I new they were fraudulent, but she kept sending more, so I kept asking...

Report it to the fraud department, refuse to "refund" anything and dont get involved in playing games. The idea is to come out of this without losing money or being investigated as an accomplice, dont get in any deeper that you have to.

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