Rent to own homes offer a popular alternative for bargain home buyers and sellers. For buyers who do not have an adequate downpayment available, or are having difficulty qualifying for a traditional home loan, a rent to own (also referred to as 'lease option', 'lease to own', or 'owner financed') agreement can provide a smoother path to homeownership. In a rent to own arrangement, the buyer and seller typically agree to designate a portion of the monthly rent paid is applied to the purchase of the property. The home's purchase price is usually agreed to in advance so there is reduced risk of an increased price at the future purchase date.

A lease option is a contract between the potential tenant and the seller that specifies the agreement to rent the property for a set amount of time and it comes with a right to refuse option that gives the potential buyer a way out at the end of the contract's termination date. It should include how much the rent is, when it is due, fees, penalties, security deposit amounts, pets, smoking requirements, parking, maintenance responsibilities, and utilities. The main difference between a traditional lease and a rent-to-own lease is deciding who will pay for upkeep and maintenance. In a traditional lease, a landlord would take care of all of these things. With RTO, the tenant might be responsible. It should also clearly specify that any rent credits or any amount of money that the tenant has had set in escrow becomes forfeit if they choose not to purchase the home. This releases them from their obligation to purchase the property, and the seller is responsible for finding a new tenant.

You will usually pay higher prices with a rent-to-own arrangement. These inflated prices are due to your rent money going for two different things, as well as miscellaneous fees that the tenant will be responsible for. You could also start out paying a slightly lower price and have it go up each year. Some clever buyers have paid inflated rents for a short period of time before coming into a "sudden windfall" to buy the property early, though contracts are typically created by the seller with the seller's interests first.
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While rent-to-own transactions are most commonly conducted for purchasing consumer goods at a retail store, this term also describes a specialized real estate agreement. The rent-to-own housing option is typically exercised more often during housing market downturns, such as the late 2000s (decade) financial crisis.[33] Because the most recent housing market downturn was accompanied by protective regulatory scrutiny of lending practices and consumer credit agencies, acquiring a loan has become more difficult for Subprime borrowers.[34] Some have opined that residential home rental may become the new normal, whereas proponents of rent-to-own real estate agreements argue otherwise.[35]
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As a buyer in a Rent to Own situation, you want someone on your side representing your interests. There are agents who specialize in Rent to Own. They will educate you on the process, find and show you properties that appeal to your needs and meet your budget, negotiate the best deal and prepare all the legal documents for you. Typically, they charge a one-time fee of $2,500 to $3,500 to handle everything. That’s actually quite a bargain when you consider the service provided and the protection their expertise provides for you.

If your property has a pool, your pool key will be located in the kitchen drawer unless your property was purchased from a foreclosure or short sale. If a pool key is missing, you will need to contact the HOA for one. Your HOA packet should be sent to you via email. If you didn’t get one from your agent, please contact the office. If the HOA charges you for a pool key, you may deduct that from your first month’s rent.

Unfortunately, Rent to Own is an option that has been tainted by a few companies with a poor reputation in the housing industry for taking nonrefundable deposits from tenants who clearly won’t ever be able to qualify for a mortgage or afford the home they’re hoping to buy. Buying a house is an emotional experience. You can fall in love with a home and ignore the numbers. You need to advocate for yourself and make sure you can afford home ownership and qualify for financing when your lease runs out.
It’s important to note that there are different types of rent-to-own contracts, with some being more consumer friendly and flexible than others. Lease-option contracts give you the right – but not the obligation – to buy the home when the lease expires. If you decide not to buy the property at the end of the lease, the option simply expires, and you can walk away without any obligation to continue paying rent or to buy.
Your contract may state that you, as the buyer, have to pay for repairs, homeowner fees, property taxes, and insurance while renting. Other contracts will stipulate that the current owner (the seller) covers these costs. It’s important that your contract clearly state who will cover repairs, because you might get stuck fixing a water leak on a home that isn’t legally yours yet. You should still have renter’s insurance to cover any issues in the interim.

Depending on the terms of the contract, you may be responsible for maintaining the property and paying for repairs. Usually, this is the landlord's responsibility, so read the fine print of your contract carefully. Because sellers are ultimately responsible for any homeowner association fees, taxes and insurance (it’s still their house, after all), they typically choose to cover these costs. Either way, you’ll need a renter’s insurance policy to cover losses to personal property and provide liability coverage if someone is injured while in the home or if you accidentally injure someone.
The iRentToOwn.com site operates like the ones listed above. You enter your zip code, and it'll put up different houses in the area. You can filter your results by bedrooms, and the listings show who owns the home before you click on them. It also tells you what types of credit are accepted. After you've found a listing and clicked on it, and for more information you register for the site. You can opt-in for alerts for properties that interest you, and contact the sellers for more information.
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According to a Federal Trade Commission survey on the rent-to-own industry in the United States conducted in 2000, consumers reported that they chose to engage in rent-to-own transactions for a variety of reasons, including “the lack of a credit check”, “the ability to obtain merchandise they otherwise could not”, and “the convenience and flexibility of the transaction”.[1] The most common reason cited for dissatisfaction within the survey was high prices. In addition, some survey respondents reported poor treatment by employees in connection with late rental payments, problems with repair services, and hidden or added costs.[1]
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The legal controversy surrounding rent-to-own transactions has centered primarily on the question of whether the transaction should be treated as a lease or a credit sale. The industry has contended that the transaction is a lease;[17] while consumer advocacy groups have advocated for the transaction to be treated as a credit sale. As of 2011, forty-seven U.S. states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia have passed laws characterizing the transaction as a lease.[18] Of the five U.S. state supreme courts that have addressed the question, three (Massachusetts, Arkansas and Maine) concluded that the transaction was a lease.[18][19][20] New Jersey and Minnesota concluded it was a credit sale based upon those states’ credit laws.[21][22][23] A federal district court in Wisconsin also found the transaction to be a credit sale under Wisconsin state law.[24]
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In a rent-to-own transaction, the tenant lives on the real property and pay towards purchasing the property at a fixed price within a specific period of time, usually one to three years.[3] As part of the contract, the renter may be required to make a nonrefundable deposit [3] often included as part of a down payment at the end of the lease term. In addition to monthly rent, often an additional amount called a rent credit is paid into an escrow account during the lease period. This amount is added to the deposit and used as part of the down payment at the end of the lease term. This pushes the rent above the market rate but helps build savings for purchase if the buy option is taken.[37] At the end of the lease term, the tenant is offered right of first refusal to purchase the property at the agreed upon sale price, or walk away and forfeit the deposit.[38] If the tenant is unable or unwilling to exercise the option to buy, the owner is then free to rent or sell the property to another buyer, or to restructure the contract.[3][37]
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(If your property has landscaping, you will receive a notice in the mail with your watering schedule and your group letter. This dictates what days you can water. Your irrigation clock is usually inside the garage. It is your responsibility to learn how to use it. If you want us to come out and set your clock, the charge is $25. If you get a fine for excessive use of water you may get a fine.)
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When you rent-to-own, you can target both buyers and renters as potential candidates to RTO the property. A buyer could purchase the property on an RTO basis, and either live in it or turn it into an investment property once the contract ends. A renter may want to purchase a property but doesn't have the means to do so right now. Any RTO property could be a big draw for them because it gives them time to save before purchasing the property. The seller has an increased chance of RTO their property.
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While rent-to-own agreements have traditionally been geared toward people who can’t qualify for conforming loans, there’s a second group of candidates who have been largely overlooked by the rent-to-own industry: people who can’t get mortgages in pricey, non-conforming loan markets. “In high-cost urban real estate markets, where jumbo [nonconforming] loans are the standard, there is a large demand for a better solution for financially viable, credit-worthy people who can’t get or don’t want a mortgage yet,” says Marjorie Scholtz, founder and CEO of Verbhouse, a San Francisco–based start-up that’s redefining the rent-to-own market.
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One big thing that may be different in this lease agreement: You, the tenant, may be responsible for maintenance costs and general upkeep of the home instead of the landlord. The logic here is that you’ll be motivated to keep the house in top shape if it will be yours in a few years. However, the landlord would still be on the hook for any repairs so major that the home would be uninhabitable without them.
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If you think this is just like renting, you are wrong. The problem with renting is you are paying a monthly fee without having anything to show for it after the fact. Imagine living in that place for years and years! You are potentially paying thousands of dollars for the years to come. With rent to own homes, your money goes towards ownership. Meaning, it is just like renting but working towards actually owning the property yourself instead of throwing your hard earned money down the drain.

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In response to a growing desire to share information, develop uniform practices and procedures and cultivate a positive public image within the growing rent to own industry in the United States, rent to own dealers established a trade association—The Association of Progressive Rental Organizations (APRO) in 1980. The association began with approximately 40 original member companies and elected an initial board of 16.[6] Today the association has approximately 350 member companies representing approximately 10,400 stores in all 50 states, Mexico and Canada. Rent to own serves 4.8 million customers at any given time in the year.[7]
Browse our extensive database of listings to find homes in your area. You can click on a listing to view more information about the listing as well as important neighborhood data, nearest schools and more. To access pricing information and to obtain the contact information of the owner, you can register for a trial membership. Our Trial Membership gives you access to many additional features, and we are always working on improving our listings data. You can cancel your membership at any time – simply contact us by email or phone for assistance, and we will be happy to help!
RentToOwn.org is one of the nation's leading providers in rent-to-own data. We have the most up-to-date, accurate listings of similar sites and you can count on us to provide only the most relevant and legitimate rent-to-own opportunities. If you register for a trial membership, you will gain access to even more home data and features. Contact us with any questions, and we look forward to helping you find your dream home.
As the end of the rent-to-own contract nears, it’s a smart idea to address any minor problems that the home inspection turned up. It’s also a good idea to make small cosmetic improvements and upgrades as needed, if possible, to help increase the value of the home prior to applying for a mortgage loan. It’s called sweat equity … and it can make a big difference when it’s time to negotiate favorable mortgage loan terms.

Here's a typical example: The house is worth $200,000, and typical rent would be $1,000 a month. Someone who's renting to own might pay $1,200 a month in rent and then receive a $200 rent credit each month. Add the option fee, in this case $5,000. On a three-year lease, the renter would earn $7,200 in rent credits. Adding the earned rental credits to the option fee, the renter has accumulated $12,200 for a down payment.
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Credit. Your credit plays a large role when you apply for a mortgage. If you have poor credit, or if you have a thin credit history, renting or RTO may be a better option because they will both give you a chance to build your credit. This will give you time to get out of any debt you may have and establish a good repayment history. If you have excellent credit and you can afford a down payment, outright purchasing a home would most likely be a better option.
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Will be located in the kitchen drawer unless your property was purchased from a foreclosure or short sale. If a mail box key is missing, you will need to go to the nearest post office with your lease and they will issue you a new one. Explain to them that the property was purchased from a foreclosure and there was no key when the property was purchased.
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There’s no standard rate for option money, which can range anywhere from 2.5% to 7% of the total purchase price of the home. If you were buying a home for $250,000 and paid a 3% option consideration, you would pay $7,500 up front. It’s smart to have that money go toward to purchase price at closing so make sure it’s included as a clause in your contract.
These programs are a great way to buy a condo or townhouse if you have bad credit. In fact, lease purchase and rent to buy programs usually offer cheap homes with no credit check. Just make sure you look at your lease to purchase agreement to understand whether you have the option or obligation to buy the home you’re looking at. Lease-purchase agreements require the buyer to purchase by the end of the lease term, while lease-option agreements give the buyer the option to buy.
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