UPDATE 29 July 2016: Roommate in Aalborg is the best Facebook group for accommodation, but scammers do exist on it, as they do on the others:
They're all on Facebook. Aalborg likes Facebook.
ORIGINAL POST: Scammers
We're moving to Denmark for the second semester so we have to look for accommodation there. There are some very bad things for penniless students when it comes to housing in Denmark, not least the insistence on contracts for 6 months of rent and 2-3 months' worth of deposit. Naturally, we wanted to avoid these problems by finding housing outside of institutional arrangements.
Here's where the larger problem comes in: scammers. Whether you use groups on Facebook or other websites, beware of them. My friends and I identified two possible scammers. Someone in a Facebook group said there are tons and tons of scammers in Copenhagen too, and thinks most of them operate the same way. Here are the tips I collected from people with experience there:
1. Ask for a local photo ID. They can blank off the ID number. I don't know how reliable this is, since they can use fake ID's.
2. One person said the most common scam is when the flat is advertised as close to both the city centre and the university. It can only be close to one of those two. She estimates the the university is 5km from the city centre. UPDATE 2 Aug 2016: This is not accurate. It is true that the university proper is far from the city centre. But, if you are like me, your faculty could be located extremely close to the city centre. I was based in Create and Nordkraft, which are both 2 to 5 minutes from the centre.
3. Scammers claim to be busy, to be abroad, to prevent you from seeing the apartment. Review the contract to see if anything is suspicious.
4. Sometimes you make an appointment and when you are there no one opens the door. The scammers will apologise later and say they forgot or something.
5. They will offer to send you the contract online for you sign, scan, and return. They will ask you to transfer the money online before they send you the keys. If you hear the words "Western Union" or "post", it is guaranteed to be a scam. Someone said Paypal signifies a scammer too.
6. You must suss out their Facebook profiles. Scammers usually use photos of old ladies and couples. Many of them do not have many friends. Something like 30-60. They do not have a lot of pictures or posts. Although that is sometimes based on their privacy settings. Still, with time you will see they are different from regular chaps. They also will not add you on Facebook for the most part. Check out their groups, the pages they liked, etc.
7. Apart from Facebook, search them on the internet. Find out where they work, where else they've posted. I found a person hosted in my potential accommodation on academia.edu. She uploaded an academic paper. I think that's quite credible.
8. One person said if they ask for payment in Euro, it's a scam. Denmark's currency is the Krone.
There are some horror stories. Someone on FB mentioned that her friend signed a contract, paid online, and went down only to find the same room rented out to eight other people. My own course mate had a contact in Aalborg check out an address and it turned out that the place did not exist at all.
After the Danish consulate made us poor students pay over 400 Euro for the residence permit and the university provided misleading information about its accommodations, having to deal with high rents, long-term contracts, and scammers on top of those is the last straw. We are not impressed with Denmark right now.
UPDATE 29 July 2016: We Got Scammed
I've left Aalborg but I should do an update.
So, I arrived in my place in Aalborg and discovered that the kitchen was huge, there was lots of space, and simply lovely. There's just one problem. Landlady won't let me keep my pots, pans, and utensils in the kitchen. I asked, may I at least place my washing liquid at the basin. The answer was no. She said there's no place for it. I look around and the kitchen counter is a desolate landscape of empty space. Ok, there was a microwave oven, and a couple of potted plants on it. But that's it. There's still enough space for a large reclining reticulated python to stretch its luscious body out on.
It's massively inconvenient. I said, you didn't tell me. She said, with a smug smirk on her face, you didn't ask.
That portended more unreasonableness to me. Would you live with a landlady like that? I told her I'd leave in a month when I'd found a more suitable place. She said, in that case, you have to leave now. Long story short, I spent a month or so flitting from friend to friend, sofa to couch.
Another friend of mine found a place. It looked ok in photos. Then he arrived and it looked like a hurricane had gone through a dumpster. He was so depressed he lay in bed for two days. He cleaned it up, but hated it, and the housemate messed up both the living room and the kitchen to such an extent that it was impossible to cook. He found another place and had a verbal agreement to move there. But all of a sudden, he was told the landlord had taken in someone else.
By this time, I'd taken his place because I was desperate and Aalborg has a serious accommodation shortage. He didn't want to live there anymore and bunked in with another friend. I loathed it too. The housemate would even cook and dump his dirty pots and pans and plates and other things in the sink before going on long holidays. I slept elsewhere whenever I could.
Then, our semester ended and we moved out. The guys who rented their room to my friend and I accused us of breaking their window, and refused to return us our security deposit, which amounts to close to 400 Euro. By this time, neither of us were in Aalborg anymore. We couldn't have gotten the money earlier because the guy who rented it to us was overseas. Then, he cut contact with us. He won't even return me the change from the repairs.
We got scammed.
During my stay, another friend of mine had been paying over 400 Euro for her room. She found out that the price was the rent for the entire apartment, not just for the room. She'd accepted the deal because she thought that rent was generally expensive. Aalborg is expensive, but this was another scam.
So, be extremely careful when you rent in Aalborg. Take pictures of everything in the house the moment you move in and send them to the landlord right away. It's a bad, bad place when it comes to accommodation.