Am I Being Fooled? Long-term Airbnb in Iceland

I was planing to rent an apartment in Reykjavik, Iceland. The price looked a little cheap. I wanted to ask if it was the real deal; the landlord said he lives abroad and he is offering to pay one month’s rent and one month’s deposit through Airbnb, that he will keep the money until I get the keys and agree to rent the apartment, and only then will the rent be deposited in his bank account. Here are his messages:

Hello, I just read your email regarding my apartment located in Reykjavik. It has two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom, and kitchen. I bought this apartment for my daughter while she was studying in Iceland. She’s back home permanently, so I’m renting the place for an indefinite time. Before we go any further I would like to know a little something about you: how many people intend to live in the apartment, and for how long? The flat looks exactly like the pictures, fully furnished and renovated. Also – very important – the utilities (cold/hot water, electricity, wireless broadband Internet, digital TV, parking spot, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator, washing machine, etc.) are included in the price of 125.000ISK/month. As for me, you can rest assured that I will never ask you to leave the apartment.

My daughter is building her life here, and I am too old to move to Iceland, so we won’t disturb you. You can use my furniture, or you can also use your own if you prefer. If you decide to use yours, you will have access to a very large and well-ventilated cellar, where you can store my furniture. Now, a little bit about myself so we can get to know each other better. My name is Thomas Nordanger and I’m a 58-year-old structural engineer. I work for MWH Global Engineering. I worked hard to have a good career and I really respect hard-earned money. The company I work for has projects all around the world so most of my time I’m traveling. I have a lovely wife, Sarah, and a 25-year-old daughter, Maria. I am very proud to say that soon I’m going to be a grandfather. Another member of our family is an 8-year-old Labrador which we all love, so, I have no problem if you will keep pets. I’m in Rome now working on a new project. The only inconvenience is that my job doesn’t allow me to leave Rome even for a single day. We just hired some new staff and I’m in charge of their training. However, this won’t affect you at all. I can make arrangements to rent the apartment from Rome (on my expense of course). Looking forward to hear from you soon. All the best from Italy!

After I expressed some concern about the situation, he wrote this:

Thank you for your reply but the problem is that I’m in Rome already. Like I have informed you, the price you shall pay for one month’s rent will be 125.000ISK, with no extra taxes to pay. The security deposit is 125.000ISK. I want to retrieve the money from my bank account on a monthly basis, so I hope it will be no problem for you to wire the money to my bank account. The apartment is ready for you; you will need only to receive the keys and the contract to check in, and see if you like it. Obviously we need a way to complete this deal, that will allow us to make sure we receive what we are after. Along those lines, I have found a way for us to complete the deal safely and fast, and in this way you will receive the keys in less than three days, if you move quickly as well.

The solution is a worldwide third party company called Airbnb (www.airbnb.com). They will provide assistance in handling the payment and delivery of the rental package. We use this company to see that you are a trusting and serious person. With this procedure you will be able to check the apartment before I receive the payment. Please be aware that it is not necessary for you to register with Airbnb given that I’ve been a registered user for four years and I’ve made over five transactions with them so far. They are really professional and they have great services. Let me know if you are interested so I can provide you with all the steps of this transaction. You need to know everything about this process before we get this started. I think is right for both of us.

I replied again asking for more information, and he wrote back:

This transaction cannot be made face-to-face. This is the whole reason for using Airbnb – for both of us to be 100% protected. Regarding the process, you will only have to deposit the first month’s rent with Airbnb for the contract and security deposit 125.000ISK + 125.000ISK = 250.000ISK and they can proceed with shipping the rental package (keys and documents). I will pay for three-day delivery so you will receive the keys and the contract signed by me right away. I will explain you step by step how this process will work:

To start the process all I need is your information (full name and address). I will go online at Airbnb to deposit the keys and the contract with your name as the intended receiver. Airbnb will check the package to see if everything is in order and also the legal papers that will come along with the keys and proof of ownership with their Real Estate Professional Department. Airbnb will send you a delivery notification to let you know they have the keys and the papers in their custody. They will also send you all the payment instructions to complete the rental transaction.

At this point you will have to go to your bank and make a money transfer to the bank account of an Airbnb representative for the amount we agreed upon; the total amount you shall deposit is 250.000ISK. After you make the deposit you will have to send the payment details to Airbnb. Airbnb will verify the transfer and if everything is in order they will start the shipping procedures using UPS or TNT Next Day Shipping Service. After you receive the package, you will go and check the apartment and in three days (inspection time) you must contact Airbnb to inform them if you want to keep the apartment or not. If everything is in order you will instruct Airbnb to send me the information about the money deposit and I will be able to receive the funds.

If you don’t like the apartment they will be sending the money back to you and you will send back the keys and contract. Airbnb can’t release the funds without your approval. Now I must know for sure if you agree because there are a lot of people interested in renting this apartment and I want to know for sure if I can tell them it’s unavailable. If you agree to what I suggested I will tell them that my apartment is already rented and I will keep it for you. If you agree then I must have all the shipping details so I will be able to make all the arrangements for the Airbnb delivery. Thank you for your interest and I await news from you.

What do you think?

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7 Comments

  1. Hey! I was planning the same but in Vienna… look at this:

    Hello,
    I just read your e-mail regarding my apartment for rent located in Werdertorgasse 12 /1,1010,Vienna, Austria. It has 2 rooms : 1 bedroom ,1 living room (51 m2).
    I bought this apartment for my daughter during her studies in Austria, but now she’s back home permanently, so I’m renting the place for unlimited time.
    Before we go any further I would like to know a little something about you, like how many persons you intend to live in the apartment, and for how long.
    The flat is exactly like in the pictures, furnished and renovated. The utilities (coldhot water, electricity, wireless broadband Internet, digital TV , dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, washing machine, etc.) are included in the price of rent ,you will have one parking spot , the rent is 470 EUR month.The guarantee deposit is EUR 1250,00, and you get it back, when you decide to leave the apartment (you will have to give me at least 30 days notice). As for me, you can rest assured that I will never ask you to leave the apartment. My daughter is building her life here, and i am too old to move to Austria, so we won’t disturb you.
    You can use my furniture, or you can also use your own if you prefer. If you decide to use yours, you will have access to a very large and well ventilated cellar, where you can store my furniture.
    Now, a little bit about myself so we can get to know each other better. My name is Matilda Veracruz Barrera and I’m a 56 years old , Deputy Director of CHAMBER OF COMMERCE from Barcelona/Spain, planning to retire in the next 2 years.
    I have a lovely husband,Luis Veracruz Barrera a 25 year old daughter, Luisa. I am very proud to say that soon I’m going to be a grandmother ). Another member of our family is a 8 year old Labrador which we all love, so, I have no problem if you will keep pets.
    The only inconvenience is that my job doesn’t allow me to leave Barcelona even for one single day. We just hired some new staff and I’m in charge of their training.
    But this won’t affect you at all. I can make arrangements to rent the apartment from Barcelona (on my expense of course).
    Looking forward to hear from you soon.
    All the best from Spain!

    Matilda Veracruz Barrera
    Fontanella 15
    Barcelona, 30400
    Spain​

    I’m so happy to have seen your post because it made me realise that it was a scam… I’m gonna also share my story here!

    Best regards

  2. Yep, it’s a scam!
    my friend has come across the same message while looking for an apartment in Vienna. Almost exactly the same as the one John posted above (just the name of the owner was changed).

  3. They follow a pattern. It’s easy to see after a while, like all sales pitches. They give to much information to come across as chatty and friendly.

    As a host I never go outside the platform. When people ask for my email or phone. It’s always through Airbnb

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