Rise in holiday rental scams

It’s the same story every summer: families looking to rent an apartment to spend their holidays at a good price, and when push comes to shove they find they’ve been scammed. This trend, however, is on the rise, as the National Police has alerted, the number of scams in vacation rentals increased last summer to above the levels of 2019 before the outbreak of the pandemic.

“The more demand there is, the higher the fraud rates, especially the digitisation of the sector and the increase in online advertisements,” explains Arantxa Goenaga, partner and lawyer at Círculo Legal Barcelona. And she adds: “Virtuality allows you to advertise properties that do not exist or that do not match the characteristics that are advertised. Above all it occurs with those rentals that are too far away to visit them.”

One of the most common cases of fraud occurs when the client is interested in the property, and the supposed owner argues for different reasons for not showing it, either because they are in a different place than their location, or because at that time they are busy.

“In this very common case, scammers request payment of a percentage or the entire rent of a property that, in reality, does not exist. The client ends up not only losing money, but also being left without a rental to enjoy their vacations”, Goenaga details.

What are the steps to follow to avoid possible scams?

In recent years, the National Police has been updating a list of recommendations that help avoid certain practices that can lead to scams during the summer.

“The easiest way to avoid a scam is not to make an advance payment, verify the information by personally going to the property and verify that these people are really the owners or are hired by the owners,” says the lawyer, who also reveals that it is It is also important to file the corresponding complaint with the Police to prevent it from happening to more people.

“The process to acquire a vacation rental must be done calmly and be incisive in various factors,” says Arantxa Goenaga. And she concludes: “strange websites, unreal offers, insecure payment platforms and low quality in the description of the properties are, without a doubt, small warnings that it may be a scam.”