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Rent-to-Own Agreement

Free Rent-to-Own Agreement

Leverage our Rent-to-Own Agreement to rent your property to a tenant with the option to purchase it in the future.

A Rent-to-Own Agreement, also referred to as lease-to-own, serves as a legal document outlining the terms between a property owner (landlord or seller) and a tenant (potential buyer). This agreement allows the tenant to lease the property with the option to purchase it before the lease term concludes.

Table of Contents

What is a Rent-to-Own Agreement?

Rent-to-own agreements, also known by various names like Rent-to-Own Contract, Lease Option Agreement, or Lease Purchase Contract, combine elements of both a typical Lease Agreement and a Real Estate Purchase Agreement. It's a nuanced arrangement with several crucial details to consider.

Option to Purchase:
The tenant's ability to purchase the property comes with a financial commitment. Referred to as "option money" or "option consideration," tenants typically pay a set amount upfront (usually 1% to 5% of the purchase price) or include it as part of monthly rent payments. While non-refundable, this consideration is often credited towards the purchase price if the tenant decides to buy.

Maintenance Responsibilities:
To align interests, landlords may require tenants to contribute to property maintenance and repairs. This may range from fixing leaks to addressing roof repairs. Additionally, discussions about property taxes, homeowner's fees, and other related expenses are vital in creating a comprehensive agreement.

Rent-to-Own Agreement Example

The sample rent-to-own agreement below details a contract between the landlord, ‘Casey S Silverman’, and the tenant, ‘Sophia M Cargill.’

Casey S Silverman agrees to lease the property to Sophia M Cargill with the option to purchase it at an agreed-upon price.

Rent-to-Own Agreement Sample

Types of Rent-to-Own Contracts

There are two primary types of rent-to-own agreements:

1. Lease-option agreement: Provides the tenant the right to purchase the property at the lease end but with the flexibility to decide against it.

2. Lease-purchase agreement: Obligates the tenant to buy the property unless there's a breach of contract or an inability to secure a mortgage.

How Does Rent-to-Own Work?

Rent-to-own agreements involve a multi-step process, combining aspects of both lease and purchase agreements. The key steps include:

1. Sign the Agreement
This involves two parts: a standard lease agreement and an option to purchase. These can be signed as one document or as two separate legal agreements.

2. Negotiate Purchase Price
Parties must agree on when and how the purchase price will be determined. This can be at the lease end or at the agreement outset to secure a favorable price.

3. Pay Non-Refundable Option Fee
Tenants pay a non-refundable option fee, usually between 1% and 5% of the purchase price, granting them the right to buy the property later.

4. Negotiate Rent Payments
Negotiations may allow a portion of the rent to contribute to the home's purchase price, making it higher than the market rate.

5. Define Maintenance Roles
Clear delineation of responsibilities for property maintenance and repairs between landlord and tenant.

6. Agree on Lease-to-Own Type
Choose between a lease option or a lease purchase agreement.

7. Secure a Mortgage
Tenants might need to secure a mortgage at the lease end to exercise their right to buy.

8. Contract Review and Home Inspection
Thoroughly review the contract or consult with a real estate lawyer. A home inspection is advisable to ensure sound investment.

What to Include in a Rent-to-Own Agreement?

Drafting a comprehensive agreement is crucial. Include details about the landlord/seller, tenant/buyer, property specifics, rent payments, option to purchase, purchase price, and other essential elements. Legal considerations and details about the lease and purchase should also be covered.

Is Lease-to-Own Worth It?

Determining the worth of a lease-to-own arrangement involves considering both pros and cons for landlords and tenants.

For the Landlord - Pros:
  • Consistent rental income in a slow housing market.
  • Higher likelihood of a purchase.
For the Landlord - Cons:
  • Potential loss of income if the property value rises.
  • No guarantee the tenant will buy at the lease end.
For the Tenant - Pros:
  • Opportunity to build credit for a mortgage.
  • More time to save for a down payment.
  • Ability to lock in a purchase price.
For the Tenant - Cons:
  • Potential for a higher purchase price if the property value drops.
  • Risk of losing the upfront option fee if they choose not to buy.

Remember, without a legally binding rent-to-own agreement, both parties might have fewer options for future real estate transactions, possibly missing out on the benefits this agreement offers.

How to Write a Rent-To-Own Agreement

Before filling out your rent-to-own agreement, write your state at the top of the form.


Step 1 – Write Effective Date of Agreement

1. Effective Date. Provide the effective date of the rent-to-own agreement.


Step 2 – Enter Landlord(s)/Seller(s) and Tenant(s)/Buyer(s) Details

2. Landlord(s)/Seller(s). Fill in the full name of the landlord (potential seller). Also, provide the landlord’s address.

3. Tenant(s)/Buyer(s). Fill in the full name of the tenant (potential buyer). Also, provide the tenant’s street address.

landlord and tenant details

Step 3 – Write Property Address and Legal Description

4. Property Address. This is the street (physical) address of the property the tenant is leasing or renting and potentially purchasing. Include any unit or apartment number, if applicable.

5. Legal Description. This is the legal description of the property the landlord is potentially selling. It is a geographical description commonly identified by a government survey, metes and sounds, or lot and block. You can find the legal description in the property’s deed or through the county assessor.

property address

Step 4 – Fill in Premises Details

6. Premises. Provide details regarding the property the tenant is leasing and potentially purchasing. Include the type of housing (apartment, house, etc.), number of bedrooms and bathrooms, whether or not parking is included, if the property includes storage and where it is located, and whether or not furnishings are included. You can also add additional details about the property.


Step 5 – Write the Term

7. Term. Enter the start date of the lease. You choose whether the lease is fixed (fixed length of time) or month-to-month (runs until the landlord or tenant terminates it).

rent to own agreement terms

Step 6 – Enter Rent Details

8. Rent. Provide the rent amount (calculated monthly), the day rent is due, where the tenant should pay the rent and how, and whether or not the landlord will charge a fee for a returned check or other payment.

9. Proration. State whether or not the landlord will prorate the rent for any period of less than one month.


Step 7 – Describe Guaranty Details.

10. Guaranty. You can choose whether or not you require the tenant have a guarantor or co-signer. If yes, provide the full name and address of the guarantor or co-signer.


Step 8 – Identify Late Fees

11. Late Fees. Share whether or not the landlord will charge a late fee if the tenant does not pay rent by the due date.

late fee

Step 9 – Explain Utilities

12. Utilities. Generally, the tenant is responsible for utilities. However, you can specify if the landlord will be responsible for certain utilities.


Step 10 – Enter Security Deposit Details

13. Security Deposit – Provide the amount of the security deposit and whether or not the landlord will pay interest on the security deposit. Refer to your state and local laws for guidance. 

14. Return of Security Deposit. Provide the number of days after the end of the lease term the landlord has to return the security deposit.

rent to own agreement security deposit

Step 11 –Fill In Use of Premises Information

15. Premises. Document the type of property and how the tenant may use the rental during the lease period.


Step 12 – Identify Inspection Checklist Requirements

16. Inspection Checklist. State whether or not the tenant must complete an inspection checklist. If yes, complete the inspection checklist at the end of the agreement (Exhibit A).

inspection checklist

Step 13 – Enter Maintenance and Repairs Details

17. Additional Costs. Write whether or not the tenant is responsible for certain extra maintenance and repair costs, as the tenant has a vested interest in the property with the option to buy.

maintenance and repairs

Step 14 – Describe Smoking Rules

18. Smoking. State whether or not you permit smoking in the property.


Step 15 – Fill In Pet Details

19. Pets. Describe whether or not you allow pets in the property and, if allowed, whether or not the tenant must pay a pet deposit. Enter the description of any pets, if allowed.


Step 16 – Check Assigning and Subletting Option

20. Assigning and Subletting. State whether or not the tenant can assign or sublet the property. If yes, indicate whether or not the tenant needs the landlord’s consent before assigning or subletting.


Step 17 – Identify Lead Disclosure

21. Lead Disclosure. Specify whether the house was built prior to 1978. If yes, the landlord must disclosure the presence of known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards present in the property as well as provide any available records and reports pertaining to lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the property. A Detailed disclosure and lead warning statement is attached to the end of this agreement.

lead disclosures

Step 18 – Check Military Clause Option

22. Military Clause. State whether or not the tenant may terminate the lease early due to active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.

military clause

Step 19 – Check Renter’s Insurance Option

23. Renter’s Insurance. State whether or not the tenant must obtain a renter’s insurance policy.

renters insurance

Step 20 – Check Mechanic’s Lien Option

24. Mechanic’s Lien. State whether or not the landlord (and any service provider) can file a mechanic’s lien on the property if the tenant makes any improvements on the premises and does not pay said service provider.

mechanics lien

Step 21 – Fill in Default Details

25. Default. In the event of a default, the landlord may provide the tenant a written notice of default. Provide the number of days notice if the default is due to the tenant’s failure to timely pay rent. Also, provide the number of days notice required if the default is for something other than failure to timely pay rent.

In conclusion, a well-structured and mutually beneficial rent-to-own agreement can be a valuable tool for both landlords and tenants in certain real estate scenarios.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Different Names for Rent-to-Own Agreements?

Rent-to-Own Agreements are known by various names, including Lease Option Agreement, Lease Purchase Contract, Rent-to-Own Contract, and Lease with the Option to Purchase Agreement.

Is the Option Fee Refundable?

The option fee is typically non-refundable. However, in some cases, tenants may be able to apply it as a credit toward the purchase price if they decide to buy.

What Factors Should Landlords and Tenants Consider to Determine if Lease-to-Own is Worth It?

Landlords should consider factors such as consistent rental income and the likelihood of a purchase, while tenants should weigh building credit, saving for a down payment, and the ability to lock in a purchase price against potential downsides.

How does rent to own work in California?

Rent-to-own, also known as lease-option or lease-to-own, is a housing arrangement where a tenant has the option to purchase the property they are renting after a certain period of time. In California, as in many other places, the specifics of rent-to-own agreements can vary, but here are some general aspects to consider:

  1. Agreement Terms:
    • Lease Period: The tenant signs a lease agreement, typically for a period of 1 to 3 years, during which they pay rent as they would in a traditional rental arrangement.
    • Option Fee/Premium: The tenant usually pays an upfront fee, known as the option fee or premium. This fee gives them the exclusive right to purchase the property within the agreed-upon timeframe.
  2. Rent Payments:
    • Part of the rent paid during the lease period may be credited towards the purchase price if the tenant decides to buy the property. The specific terms should be clearly outlined in the agreement.
  3. Purchase Price:
    • The purchase price is usually agreed upon at the beginning of the lease, or it may be determined by a formula outlined in the agreement. It's essential to have a clear understanding of how the price will be determined.
  4. Maintenance and Repairs:
    • The responsibility for maintenance and repairs may vary. Some agreements stipulate that the tenant is responsible, while others may shift this responsibility to the potential buyer.
  5. Home Inspections:
    • Depending on the agreement, the tenant may have the option to conduct a home inspection before deciding to purchase the property.

How to lease to own homes in California?

Leasing to own a home in California involves several steps, and it's essential to navigate the process carefully to protect the interests of both parties. Here's a general guide on how to lease to own homes in California:

  1. Understand the Concept:
    • Familiarize yourself with the concept of lease-to-own agreements. Understand that these arrangements provide tenants with the option to purchase the property after a specified period, usually 1 to 3 years.
  2. Determine Eligibility:
    • Check if you meet the eligibility criteria set by potential landlords. Some landlords may require a certain credit score or financial stability.
  3. Search for Lease-to-Own Properties:
    • Look for properties with lease-to-own options. You can find these listings through real estate websites, local real estate agents, or by directly contacting property owners.
  4. Negotiate Terms:
    • Once you identify a property, negotiate the terms of the lease-to-own agreement with the property owner. Discuss details such as the lease duration, monthly rent, option fee, and purchase price.
  5. Draft a Lease Agreement:
    • Work with a real estate attorney or use a standard lease agreement template to draft a lease agreement that includes the terms and conditions of the lease, as well as the option to purchase the property.

Can a landlord break a rent-to-own contract?

The ability of a landlord to break a rent-to-own contract depends on the terms outlined in the specific agreement and the applicable laws in the jurisdiction. Rent-to-own contracts typically include details about the terms, conditions, and obligations of both parties involved. It's crucial to review the contract thoroughly to understand the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant-buyer.

If the landlord wishes to terminate the rent-to-own contract prematurely, they must adhere to the terms specified in the agreement. Common reasons for termination might include a breach of contract by the tenant-buyer or specific conditions outlined in the contract that allow the landlord to terminate.

Rent-to-Own Agreement Sample

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