Hi, I've been renting apartments in Europe, mainly Germany, for years, and the only problem I've had was a complete rip-off booked through Ah-Paris. I've rented from probably 3 different people in Berlin and have paid the deposit up front and cash on arrival. Made me nervous at first, but I was never disappointed.
Renting apartments is the way to go. Not only do you get much more space, but you can have your coffee in your jammies, the way I like to start my day.