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Beware, trap! How to expose apartment-hunting scammers

Release: February 2022 (Update December 2023)

How to avoid scammers when looking for an apartment

Over the years, I have encountered numerous advertisements and rental offers that initially seemed too good to be true. My gut feeling has often proven correct.

In this article, I would like to share my experiences and offer some tips to help you feel safer when looking for an apartment in Paris.

7 tips to avoid scammers when looking for an apartment in France

Misconception: Discovering a cheap apartment in Paris

Perspective matters; what may be a bargain for some could be expensive for others. While luck may bring forth a dream offer in a prime location at an affordable price, such offers are often 99% fraudulent.

For example, € 800 for 30 square meters in the Marais.

Trust your instincts and report suspicious online ads to the respective website.

Misconception: Just reserve quickly, then the apartment is yours

If someone requests payment in advance, halt the conversation immediately. Scammers often exploit time pressure or naivety to secure deposits or "security fees." Beware of phrases like "Western Union" or "mandat cash." Legitimate landlords do not ask for money well in advance of lease signing.

Misconception: It is what it is

Scammers may book apartments on popular short-term rental portals, posing as owners. Request proof of ownership, such as an extract from the land register, to avoid falling into a trap.

Misconception: The landlord has a nice cousin

Be cautious if the owner claims to be away, with a family member or friend handling the rental process. This popular scam often involves requests for advance payments using terms like "mandat cash."

Misconception: Mistakes can happen

Yes, they can. Spelling errors for example, no one is perfect. Even many French people confuse some things in everyday use ("J'ai marcher" instead of "J'ai marché" or se/ce etc.), because many things sound amazingly the same.

Fraudulent ads may contain an accumulation of orthographic errors, indicating potential scams by foreign-based fraudsters.

Misconception: A lot helps a lot

Please, just do not worry! Everything is ok! The advance payment is only for the fact that I, the landlord, can also assume to rent to such a fabulous person as you are! And of course you do not transfer the money directly to my account, but it is parked on a neutral bank account!

Of course...

As soon as you receive a message that contains such text and constantly points out that everything is correct in order to rule out security concerns for both parties, beware. Scammers regularly try to allay concerns with exaggerated promises of security.

Misconception: Seriously typed, seriously thought

If a lengthy written response follows your housing ad inquiry, scrutinize the text for reused, modified standard texts commonly employed by scammers. Verify the text using search engines to identify potential scams.

A word about your dossier

Point 1: R.I.B. (Relevé d'identité bancaire)

Private landlords and agencies may still request a R.I.B. for security, claiming difficulty in collecting payments from foreign accounts. However, French law has prohibited this since 2015. Consider addressing this circumstance or evaluating its significance based on your situation.

Point 2: Protection of your application file

Redact data such as tax identification numbers in the income tax statement or employee IDs in your salary letters, etc.

To safeguard your dossier a bit more, consider the following options:

 Option A

Step 1) Add a watermark to all documents, for example by authorizing them only for the housing search process. This is possible, for example, for PDFs with online tools such as  PDF24 or  iLovePdf. Likewise, programs like Wondershare and many others.

Step 2) However, some tools can remove watermarks, so it is recommended to convert the edited PDFs into images. For example, this can also be done with the mentioned online tools.

 Option B

Create a secure dossier through online portals like DossierFacile, dedicated solely to the apartment search.


Good luck with your apartment search!  I will be very happy to assist you with any questions, including the creation of your dossier and translation!