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Rv654321's avatar

Can a rental lease be sent through email?

Asked by Rv654321 (228points) April 12th, 2010

I found a listing on for a 3bd house that is up for rent. The posting has pictures and description of the house.So I contacted the owner to the email address provided as contact information. He replied saying that the house is still available and explained that he is renting the house at a really reasonable price because he won a bid on some petroeluem deposits in Africa and wants to leave as soon as possible to start his company over there. He is currently out of the country and said he would mail all the paper work for our review but would also like the deposit and first months rent sent to him thruough Money gram or Western union. I told him i would send the money as soon as I received and reviewd the lease. He them replied saying he emailed me the lease..How can I tell if this Lease legitimate? it has an Electronic signature and idk the formatting of it just looks fishy. Is this a Scam???

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17 Answers

janbb's avatar

It certainly can be e-mailed; my sons have negotiated several leases this way. However, if you are sensing something fishy, there may well be. Can you check out the property and meet the landlord before signing and giving any money over. “Won a bid on some petroleum deposits in Africa” would raise red flags for me!

njnyjobs's avatar

Sounds like a scam . . Why would you even consider renting it without a site inspection?

As soon as I read the Africa connection, it immediately raised a red-flag. . .NEVER send any money via Money gram or Western Union for this type of transaction.

Rv654321's avatar

We cannot meet the landlord in person before signing the lease or sending any money because he is out of the country in Africa. I was thinking about going to the house and taking a look around and asking the neighbors if they know anything about the property or the owners..?

Rv654321's avatar

Thanks for the advice! I wouldnt consider with out looking at the house first. This is why I tried getting a tour but he isnt in the country..The lease that he emailed me just doesnt look really professional or legitimate, but this might just be with his inexperience of being a landlord and renting out his house? The lease also has an electronic signature, is that valid?

njnyjobs's avatar

Don’t try to justify the situation by thinking that landlord is away. You must confirm that he has legal authority over the property and is able to rent it out. Check with the township who the owner of record is and if there is a valid Certificate Of Occupancy for the property in the landlord’s name.

marinelife's avatar

It sounds like a scam. I would check out the property and make sure this person has the right to lease it.

I think that was too much information he gave you. It sounds fishy.

nope's avatar

There’s a reason that eBay & PayPal recommend against Western Union type money transfers. The very fact that the word “Africa” is involved with this is enough to make me suspicious. Anyone can post pictures of a house on Craigslist. Have you taken a drive by to see if it’s really still for rent? Maybe there’s a phone number on the for rent sign that you could call to verify this is for real? Anyway, I’m not saying anything is wrong for sure, but if you decide to go forward, try to find a way to transfer money that has some protections around it.

nope's avatar

And how would you get the keys? Is he sending them from Africa?

Rv654321's avatar

No I havent actually gone to the house, but thats what I am going to do today as soon as I get out of work. Yea, he is supposed to be sending the keys along with the lease contact from africa if we decide that we want the house. Like everyone has commented it does sound fishy but when i talked to the guy he has strong accent which makes the whole africa story seem more believable…

Rv654321's avatar

and makes me think maybe that is why things look a little strange..?

Rv654321's avatar

Where could I with the township..? to see if he is the current owner of has the right to rent out the house

EmpressPixie's avatar

This is an old scam. If you really want the house, go and knock on the door. If no one is home, talk to neighbors and see if they know if anyone is living there now. Often when this scam is run, the apartment or home currently has tenants. Though, with the economy the way it is now, it would not be difficult to find an abandoned home.

Here is an article on how some of these scams work. Another article about some other apartment rental scams to be aware of.

Here is some information: about records of ownership. Basically it says that the system of recording who owns what land is devised by state statute. I would call your local city hall or visit a public library and ask how you can access that information. Your librarian or civil servants should be able to help you.

Judi's avatar

My daughter was renting out a house and discovered someone trying to scam people regarding her house on Craig’s list. Unless it’s a legit property management company or you have checked with the assessors office and know that the person you are making the check to is actually the person who owns the house, don’t give a dime until you get possession. (keys and a walk through.)
As a landlord for the last 20+ years I have come a lot of people trying to scam me, but this scamming the residents is a new phenomenon. RUN!

Rv654321's avatar

I think im not gonna risk it and just pass on this house..since after reading all the suggestions and the links to websites it all looks to familiar..better safe then sorry!Thanks for all the help!

nope's avatar

Good decision. You’ll find something you want, don’t worry.

kirstenpowell's avatar

Yes, it sure can! Though, you must use a legally binding digital signature for it to be accepted by law.

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