Even if the weather in Malaga is almost perfect all year around, it’s likely that you don’t want to sleep on a bench in the park, so the chances that you will rent an apartment or a room is quite high. Unfortunately, renting an apartment in Malaga can be a pain in the ass, especially because many real-estate agencies try to pull-off dirty scams to get as much money out of the foreigners (guiris) as possible.
As you might have guessed, My friends and I managed to run into these traps, so here are some hints on how to not get scammed in Malaga:
1.) DO NOT PAY DEPOSIT without meeting the person and visiting the apartment. There are scam advertisements that encourage you to transfer money to their account without even meeting them or visiting the apartment. Guess what, it’s a scam. They just want your money and you will never hear about them anymore, nor getting your money back.
2.) ALWAYS ASK FOR A RECEIPT and take a photo of the ID of the person who accepts your deposit. You have to have proof that you paid, how much and who did you pay for.
3.) ALWAYS HAVE IT IN WRITING what is the deposit paid for. Will it get deducted from the rent? Or will you get it back at the end of the rental period? Make sure that it’s clear, easy to understand, no tricky mumbo jumbo about the deposit. DO NOT ACCEPT if the deposit is called something else, some kind of fee or expense, or whatever. A deposit is a deposit. It should not be split and parts of it called different ways because then you might end up not seeing your “deposit” ever again.
Also agree on, when and how your deposit should be released. For example, they want you to pay in cash in 7 days, then you should also define in the contract, how and within what timeframe you want your deposit back. Also, VERY IMPORTANT to define, that what and how is deductible from your deposit (you will see later)
4.) PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS when you visit the apartment, try all the doors, windows, sinks, toilets, wardrobes, cabinets, domestic electric appliances, light switches, electric outlets, etc. to make sure everything works properly. If something is broken, dirty, then take photos and a list for the real-estate agency and tell them to get them fixed. When you move in, verify that these things got fixed up to your satisfaction.
5.) IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND DON’T SIGN the contract. You are in Malaga, so the contract might be in Spanish. Take time, use google translate or ask a friend, READ IT and make sure that you agree with all the points. A contract is an agreement between both parties. If you don’t understand something in the contract ask for clarification or rephrasing the contract. The real-estate agencies or owners often try to force a bad contract on you, and when you complain about some parts they say “Nah, that doesn’t matter, that is just some legal text, not important, don’t worry about that.” Well, if that sentence doesn’t matter then they can easily remove it or change it, don’t they? And if they refuse to do that, then you can realize that it’s indeed important… and you are about to be scammed.
6.) DO NOT SIGN a contract that says that you have to maintain/repair things in the apartment, especially if the apartment is old. Let’s say you move into a 30-year-old building in Malaga. Even if you handle everything as your own with care, things will break because they are old. Repairing, replacing these is not your responsibility unless you break them by accident or on purpose. Also, every owner has to have insurance for the apartment. When something breaks the insurance company will cover it. It’s not your problem or responsibility to replace or repair things.
7.) MAKE A LIST OF BROKEN THINGS, because in Malaga it’s very likely that the apartment might have some broken things that the real-estate agency or the owner is not willing to fix. If you are fine with living with those then make sure they are reported in writing (email is preferred) so when you move out and they try to charge you for those broken things, you will have evidence that those were broken/dirty/faulty in the first place.
8.) MAKE AN INVENTORY if the place is not empty and get it signed by both parties, to make sure later they will not claim missing items that never existed. If they bring a ready-made inventory, then make sure to check if everything on it exists. If something is missing then remove it from the inventory and then signed the modified list.
9.) ONLY ACCEPT OFFICIAL UTILITY BILLS, if they are not changed to your name. Sometimes the owner keeps the utility contracts in their name, forwarding you the bills. Don’t be a fool and pay X amount just because they say so. Ask for the original utility bills to see if your consumption was really that much.
This was only the moving in part, crazy, isn’t it? You might think that being this cautious is too much. Well, it depends. If you don’t mind losing a few hundred euros then you are right, you can afford to not give a fuck about all these, but that also lets the scammers continue their shady business…
10.) VISIT THE APARTMENT TOGETHER when you move out, together with the owner or the representative of the real-estate agency. Go around, check everything, show that everything is in place, nice and clean, and then sign a release agreement that states that the apartment is in the same condition as you received it, and your deposit should be paid back in full. Don’t just leave them the key, make sure that you go together and you agree that everything is fine, otherwise, you might get a nasty surprise, saying that things were missing and broken, also they needed to pay a lot for a cleaning service, plumber and other things, that they want to deduct from your deposit.
11.) CHANGING THE UTILITIES BACK to the owner is the real-estate agency or the owner’s job, but ask for proof that they did it. You have the release agreement proving that you’ve left the apartment on X date, after that the utilities are not your concern. If they don’t do it, then go to the providers and CANCEL the whole contract. That means, they will pay for registration and all that crap when they want to start a new contract in that apartment.
These are the main ways that you can get scammed in Malaga when you try to rent a place to live. Oh, and one more thing!
NOT RECOMMENDED AGENCY:
Calle Haydn, 3, 29004 Málaga
Tel: 952 232 872 / 657 908 637 / 692 282 795
Even the moving in was troublesome, and during my stay in the apartment I had differences with the real-estate agency that was in charge of the maintenance, yet, for example, I had to beg for a month to get the front door of the apartment fixed just to mention one of the many things. But that’s not the main reason. The last drop was that when I moved out, we’ve visited and inspected the apartment together, we’ve signed the release agreement that everything is fine and I should get the deposit back. Then for almost 2 months, I didn’t get the deposit back, even if I asked them several times what is going on, why is the delay?
When I told them that I will go to the police, finally they agreed to pay, but they deducted almost 400€ for cleaning, plumbing, and other made-up excuses. Again, the important part is that we’ve visited the apartment together and we agreed that everything is perfect, yet later they’ve invented things just to not pay my deposit back. Also, I gave the keys back 7 days before the contracted date, so I would have plenty of time to clean/fix anything myself, but since everything was perfect, I gave the apartment back as it was. Conclusion: Avoid this company like the plague.
They did not reply to my email, disputing the cleaning and repair fees, but after I’ve left a negative review on google maps for the agency, they replied to my google maps review (in terrible English):
“Justice is there to report and is in a free country where you can go to them and wherever you want, it is very easy to hide behind a review, this will be my last answer and everyone has to take what is yours and I think you are intelligent enough to know what I’m talking about, however I will explain it to you: € 140 cleaning says a lot about how I left the house and stop saying that we are scammers because it is a very serious accusation and I will put it in the hands of my lawyers. Have a nice day.”
So let’s see the video, that I’ve recorded the day when I gave back the apartment. You can decide if it needed 400€ cleaning or not: