Rental scams are a growing problem all around the world and especially in places like Gran Canaria where there is always a shortage of properties.
Here’s our guide to the most common scams and how to spot them, plus some tips about how to find a safe rental in Gran Canaria.
You are most vulnerable to scammers if you are looking for property in Gran Canaria for a medium period of time; longer than a month but less than a year. There are less properties rented out like this and demand is high.
Short stays are safer because you book them on Airbnb or Booking.com and see the landlord’s reviews. Long-term rentals tend to be handled by estate agents, or at least come with a negotiated contract and are therefore less vulnerable to fraud. For residential rentals, and yto an idea of prices and standards,start at Idealista.com.
The fake property scam
This is common in the high end rental market because there is a big lack of property with outside space, especially in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria city.
Scammers create an advert on a popular rental portal, or post pictures in Facebook Groups aimed at remote workers and digital nomads.They then take a reservation deposit, take down the advert and disappear.
The key to spotting this scam is to pay close attention to the photos of the property. There should be plenty of them and they should all have the same furniture and fixtures. You can often tell that the outdoor photos from fake listings are not taken in Gran Canaria, or that the property is not typical of the island (Balinese villa, ultra-modern high rise, etc). There are no villas or houses with gardens near the beach in Las Palmas.
Never believe landlords who give you excuses about not having any photos because they are redecorating, etc.
You can also Google search the images to see if they appear in multiple adverts from different places, or appear on property portals (scammers get their photos from estate agent listings).
Multiple deposit scam
We’ve had several reports of this happening in Las Palmas recently and it is also well known in the resorts.
The owner of a genuine property takes several deposits from people who all believe they have reserved it. Then they arrive to find that the property is already occupied and the owner refuses to return the deposit.
To avoid this scam, always ask for a receipt when leaving a deposit and always pay by bank transfer rather than in cash. If at all possible, avoid leaving a deposit until you have seen a property.
The unpleasant flatmate
There is at least one guy in Las Palmas pulling this trick. He rents out a room, with a deposit and rent in advance, in his apartment. As soon as his guests move in he starts to act erratically so that they move out to get away from him and he keeps their money.
Avoid this scam by asking for the contact details of previous tenants.
How to avoid scammers
- Only pay a deposit after you have received a reservation receipt with the contact details and identity number of the landlord
- There is no such thing as a bargain rental property in popular areas of Gran Canaria; you get what you pay for and underpriced properties are cheap for a reason
- Make sure you have the exact address of the property and compare it to the photos using Google Maps
- Ask for the contact details of previous tenants
- Check all photos carefully for coherence and location
- Use landlords who have their properties listed on property portals such as Airbnb and Booking.com and have plenty of reviews
- Come out in advance, stay in an Airbnb and look for property in person once you arrive
- Join local Facebook Groups and ask members if you have any suspicions about a property or a contact
- Be wary of landlords who try and rush you into making a deposit before you have a chance to do any checks
- Never pay more than one month’s deposit in advance
- Trust your instincts if something seems wrong with an advert or odd about a landlord
- Join local groups such as Digital Nomads Accommodation GC and Gran Canaria Accommodation. For more general Gran Canaria Information join Gran Canaria Info and Living In Gran Canaria.
Help I got scammed
We advise you to go to the police with all the information you have. Head to the nearest Policia Local station with all documentary evidence you have.
You can also get a lawyer involved although the cost adds up and you may spend as much as you get back.
However, even the threat of a lawyer or the police is often enough to make a dishonest landlord return your money.