Some people think looking for a flat is stressful.
I love poking around strangers’ homes.
LSB and I have been doing a lot of it lately.
In fact, it’s turned into quite a nasty little habit.
It began last month, when I developed an epistolary relationship with an English gentleman named Mr Humphreys. He was advertising an apartment just off Gendarmenmarkt, one of Berlin’s prettiest squares.
Mr Humphreys had bought the property for his daughter while she attended university. Since she had now completed her studies, he was looking to rent it out.
But poor Mr Humphreys was ill and his treatment meant he was unable to travel to Berlin. He was simply keen to rent out his beautiful, affordable apartment to a young couple just like LSB and me.
“You seem to be a very nice person,” Mr Humphreys wrote to me, adding “I can assure you we will not have any problems.”
Mr Humphreys had a formal, near-native prose style. He offered to send me the keys to his apartment. The rest, he said, would be taken care of by a letting agency.
There was just one small matter. In exchange for mailing us the keys, he required €1,340 to be transferred to his account – so we could “trust each other.”
I thought I might trust Mr Humphreys more if he agreed to Skype with me. But as well as being in poor health, Mr Humphreys suffered from shyness. Ideally, we would just transfer the money. After all, it would be immediately refunded if we decided not to take the apartment.
While I was corresponding with Mr Humphreys, LSB decided to check out our future address. It was a Chinese restaurant.
And as much as it pained me, I concluded my correspondence with Mr Humphreys.
LSB and I then narrowed our search to flats which existed.
(Part 2 coming soon!)
Poor Mr Humphreys. He thought you were such a nice couple that you might be satisfied with a “virtual” flat while paying real money. So, Mr Humphreys, beware of nice couples. Try the nasty ones.
Very well written piece. Greatly enjoyed the dry humour.
OMG I feel so sorry for you both because I should havr told you that this is a common tactic of criminals in Berlin. You can get a clue when the pictures of the flat are looking far too good for that price 🙂
Don’t worry, Andy – we were a little suspicious of Mr Humphreys from the start! Thanks for your concern though – much appreciated 🙂
Phew! For a second there I thought you and LSB would send the money! Finding a flat anywhere is rough going 😦
We dodged a bullet, Aileen! But guess what – after viewing our 13th flat last night, we came home to an e-mail telling us we’d got the one we were really hoping for! Will blog about that soon- I have just been up to my eyes in work stress recently! Hope you are doing well! xxx
Oh I’m buzzed for you! Nothing better than finding a good place to live. I’ve moved in with a friend in Strasbourg – no more living alone in a dodgy estate! Win for us both 🙂 Looking forward to your blog post on your new flat!
Oh my goodness! That’s awful. How did he think he could get away with something like that? Really glad you didn’t exchange anything. Hope the next place isn’t a total scam!
Some people have no shame! Heard that a friend of a friend fell victim to something very similar.. 😦 They prey on people new in town especially. And in an update to the whole story: we found out last night that we had got a place – really delighted 🙂 You and Isaac must come visit again soon!
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