I found a property online that I am interested in renting and contacted the landlord via e-mail. He has screened me over the phone and e-mailed me a rent lease agreement and is requesting $500 deposit via Western Union to be sent to Africa. Can he send a legal rental agreement through e-mail and does this sound right?
Property rental agreements, like most other contracts, may be exchanged via email as long as the signature provided is valid. However, there are several additional issues one should consider before signing a rental agreement and providing a security deposit.
As a general matter, you should inspect the property before actually providing a security deposit or signing any rental agreement. Also, when you supply a deposit you should request that the landlord provide a security deposit receipt. Given the fact that you have not seen the property, that you have not received a security deposit receipt, and that you are sending cash to Africa for a rental located in America, the situation sounds suspicious.