Year of The Scam
- Homeowner finds his flat has been rented out to 2 men while he was away.
- Landlady arrested for taking 3,400€ from tenants, including 1,000€ in fictitious fees, then forcing eviction by cutting water supply.
- Consell calls for Citizens to turn informer on illegally rented apartments.
- Many tales of rental heartache.
27th April 2017: Nick Gibbs
It is perhaps inevitable that with Ibiza’s much reported property crisis, the opportunity to exploit the situation for criminal gain would attract some of society’s worst examples of moral-compass lacking lowlifes looking to make a fast buck at the expense of other’s misery.
With the arrival of the summer workers including the ideal prey of those blissfully ignorant of the potential to be subject of a rental rip off, we are starting to see evidence of the scammers at work.
In the news
In this article we report two quite different scenarios in so far as how the scam was set up, but very similar in their outcome of the victim ending up without a home and several thousand euros the poorer.
We also report on the Consell’s call for the citizens of Ibiza to become its informer army, asking for illegal holiday lettings to be reported directly to them by email, though we wait to see any evidence of effective action being taken as a result.
The hidden effect
Though all of these reports are indicative of the problems caused by the housing situation, they are not the most numerous, nor the saddest, reaching our inbox.
That dubious honour has to go to the ever increasing number of people we are hearing from who are coming to the end of long term tenancies taken before the boom. People who are finding that their landlords are asking for huge increases in rent to write a new lease. Increases of 50%, 100%, we have heard tell of up to 300%, and as mad as those increases sound, chances are they are achievable in the current market. But for the tenant, somebody that may have family, jobs, somebody that has put down roots and made their life here, such increases are simply not tenable.
These situations are not Scams. The landlord is not breaking any rules. They have waited until the end of the term and then wish to maximise the commercial return from their property. Your perception of the morality of that will depend where you sit on the political spectrum. But they are not breaking any laws—unless of course they need to let the property illegally to get the income they feel achievable, but that really is a separate matter and the satisfaction of reporting them to the Consell’s email hotline if they did so will be of little comfort to the displaced tenant.
Only the beginning
Ibiza has always carried a price premium, but let us say this price surge started in 2015 and really took off in 2016.
People with long term tenancies more than a couple of years old will be likely to have 5 year contracts. This means we are only at the start of this renewal rental crisis, and I feel this is likely to be where the real pain lies.
These are not people who may simply decide to not bother coming back again next season, or will live in four bunks to a room barrack apartments if that’s all they can afford. These are our people. The people we live and work with all year round. People with children who may sound British, but have only ever attended a Spanish school. And of course it will not just be us English speakers, the problem will affect the indigenous population too.
These are the worst stories in my inbox and when out and about. People who have had their lives turned upside down overnight—and the hopelessness they seem to feel that there is any solution to regain that settled family home life.
Good & bad
It is important to remember that some landlords are consciously forgoing the increased returns they could receive. I heard one story only yesterday of a 5 year rent of a family home now renewed on the 3 year term at 900€, an increase of just 50€ on their last lease.
Few of us could claim to have any real knowledge of how this will all pan out. Increased wages? A bubble burst? Pure survival of the fittest? Who knows. But one thing is for sure, our chances of getting through it with as little heartache as possible will be better if we can avoid a ’them and us’ landlords v tenants’ mentality. That is not the issue. The issue is one of good people and bad people and they exist on both sides of that property divide.
We just have to trust that the Ibizan mentality, consciousness, community, whatever it is, will ultimately win out—though perhaps some vision of good triumphing over evil is pure fantasy in the world we live.
For now, two things are for sure…
There are scammers and wrong ‘uns among us.
And there are neighbours losing their homes.
Do what you can to help take care of them.
Letting Scams & Letting Informers
Woman Arrested For Fraud & Illegal Eviction
- Landlord took 3,400€ from tenants including falsified fees, then evicted them.
The Guardia Civil in Sant Antoni have arrested a 46-year-old Argentinian woman, as the alleged perpetrator of a crime of coercion, fraud and documentary misrepresentation, according to a press release from the Interior Ministry.
The incident occurred in a house owned by the detainee, located in Sant Antoni, when police were called after a “discussion” with the tenants.
The owner had demanded that the tenants leave the house although they had just paid € 3,400 to cover rent for the current month, security deposit and a real estate management fee.
When they would not leave she cut off their water supply in an attempt to force the issue.
Once in the property Police verified that in addition to the coercions, the detainee had committed a crime of fraud and documentary falsification, since the contract included the collection of an amount of money, 1,100 euros, detailed as the expenses of real estate management company.
It was discovered that the company was entirely fictitious, and the landlord could not provide any documentary evidence that would justify the management fee being taken from the tenants.
Local Man Finds His Flat Has Been Rented Out
- An Ibicenco has been forced to denounce two unwitting victims of a letting scam.
The local man had purchased a new flat and had been moving in his possessions gradually over the last few weeks.
When he went to the flat with some more of his boxes, he found the locks had been changed.
On calling the Guardia Civil, he was told he had to wait until the flat was occupied before they would intervene.
When he was aware the flat was occupied he called the Guardia Civil who attended and discovered two men and a dog were in the apartment.
One of the occupants, who was wearing the owner’s clothing adding insult to injury, presented what appeared to be a contract and a rental payment receipt.
The men explained that they had signed the contract with a man to whom they had paid 2,000€, one month rent and two months more as a deposit (650€ per month).
The contract was signed by a person with the same name as a Portuguese man who, on 30 March, was sent to prison by the Orense court for several real estate frauds, six of them committed in Ibiza.
According to the police, the detainee took advantage of the high demand for rental housing on the island and the high prices paid in season, and inserted numerous advertisements on the best-known websites offering property to let that he had no rights over.
Consell Call On Citizens To Report Illegal Rents
As part of a programme to eliminate illegal holiday lettings, the Consell have published information on how to report this activity.
There are now two ways in which citizens of Ibiza can denounce non-regulated tourist lettings, either in person at Consell offices or by simply sending an email directly to the address below.
The Consell are particularly interested in illegal apartment rentals as this is one of the biggest, and most difficult to tackle, areas.
“We ask for your help and thank you” said Insular Director for Tourism Vicent Torres Benet “Now we have the informers who will work at ground level”, he added.