A report in Politiken newspaper accused the firms Nordic Housing and Housing Denmark, intermediaries that help place foreign workers and students in rental properties, of relying on their customers' unfamiliarity with Danish rules to charge them prices well above the market price.
The newspaper sent examples of the companies' listings to the national renters' association Lejernes Landsorganisation (LLO), which said the rental prices were up to four times higher than what is allowed by rules set out by the rent control board (huslejenævnet).
“These are completely crazy prices. It's illegal and it's a con,” the head of LLO in Copenhagen, Claus Højte, told Politiken.
Højte accused the companies of intentionally ripping off expat workers and foreign students.
“Many have realized that you can cheat foreigners. And it's deception because they are not renting in accordance with the law. Most Danes know about the rental laws and the rent control board, but people who come here from other countries don't know their rights or Danish law,” he said.
See also: What to know about renting in Copenhagen
Politiken contacted Nordic Housing and Housing Denmark under the guise of being a potential landlord, and both places appeared to admit that they are well aware of their customers' ignorance of Danish laws and market prices.
“First of all, [an expat worker] gets a housing grant from his employer and secondly, to be blunt, he is not here to get pedantic with rental contracts,” a Nordic Housing consultant said.
A Housing Denmark consultant confirmed to Politiken that the price a landlord could get from a foreign worker is higher than what a Dane can be asked to pay and that the foreigners are very unlikely to file a complaint over the price.
“Those who come and rent through us come to work here for one, two or three years. They come to be in Copenhagen, to enjoy and experience Denmark and to work. They don't come here to go to the rent control board […] They don't use their time writing letters if they think they've been cheated,” the worker said.
When Politiken later admitted that the potential landlord was actually a journalist, both companies vehemently denied that they are out to cheat their customers.
“We don't have any intentions other than making both the landlord and the renter happy. What's special about our company is that we have seen the rental property and [act as] a type of filter for the expats who come here with language barriers and experience a new culture,” Housing Denmark's CEO Steen Lundsfryd said.
“They need someone who understands their needs and they are willing to pay for it rather than face the large and confusing market alone,” he added.
Nordic Housing also denied any attempts to rip off foreigners.
“Our customers are absolutely not in a vulnerable situation and through the company in Denmark that has hired them, they are fully aware of their rights,” the company's CEO and founder, Bo Sander, told Politiken.