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What Are the Pros & Cons of Rent-To-Own?

The real estate agent hands the customer the keys to the house after the contract agreement is complete.

A legal analysis of Indiana rent-to-own agreements

Rent-to-own agreements, also known as lease-to-own or lease-option agreements, offer a unique approach to acquiring property. These arrangements allow tenants to rent a property with the option to purchase it at a later date.

While this can be an appealing option for individuals who may not qualify for traditional financing, there are legal implications to consider.

How do rent-to-own agreements work in Indiana?

In Indiana, rent-to-own, or lease-to-own, agreements apply to tenants who have already rented a home or plan on leasing. A lease term in a rent-to-own agreement is usually 1-5 years.

The agreement allows tenants to apply a portion of the paid rent as a credit toward their mortgage down payment. There are essentially two types of rent-to-own agreements:

  • Lease-option agreement. This type of contract involves the tenant making a nonrefundable payment at the start of the lease, typically applied toward a future down payment on a mortgage. This payment won't be refunded if the tenant chooses not to buy the house.
  • Lease-purchase agreement. In this arrangement, the tenant doesn't make a nonrefundable payment. Instead, the down payment for the mortgage is incorporated into the rent, leading to higher monthly payments. The purchase date and price are predetermined at the contract's outset.

Rent-to-own pros and cons in Indiana

Rent-to-own is not advised for everyone. Whether a rent-to-own agreement is right for your situation will depend on personal circumstances.

An experienced Indiana real estate attorney can evaluate your situation and explain your best options for purchase or lease. However, in general, these are the basic pros and cons of rent-to-own in Indiana:


  • Accessible homeownership. One of the primary benefits of rent-to-own agreements is that they provide individuals with the opportunity to own a home who may not qualify for a mortgage due to poor credit or insufficient funds for a down payment. This accessibility can be particularly advantageous for those who are rebuilding their credit or saving for a down payment while renting the property.
  • Locking in the purchase price. Rent-to-own agreements typically include a predetermined purchase price for the property. This can be beneficial for tenants as it allows them to lock in the price of the home at the beginning of the agreement, protecting them from potential increases in the housing market. This can provide tenants with greater financial stability and certainty regarding the future cost of homeownership.
  • Flexibility. Rent-to-own agreements offer flexibility for both landlords and tenants. Landlords may be more willing to negotiate terms such as rental amounts, lease durations, and purchase prices to attract tenants to their properties. Additionally, tenants have the flexibility to test out the property and the neighborhood before committing to purchasing it, ensuring that it meets their needs and expectations.
  • Potential rent credits. Some rent-to-own agreements include a portion of the monthly rent being applied as a credit towards the eventual purchase of the property. These rent credits can accumulate over the course of the lease term, reducing the overall purchase price of the home and providing tenants with a financial incentive to stay in the property long-term.


  • Risk of default. Rent-to-own agreements typically require tenants to pay an upfront option fee and/or higher-than-market rent prices. If tenants are unable to exercise their option to purchase the property at the end of the lease term, they may forfeit these fees and any rent credits accumulated during the lease period. This can result in significant financial loss for tenants who are unable to secure traditional financing or who experience a change in their financial circumstances.
  • Limited legal protections. Rent-to-own agreements may offer tenants fewer legal protections than traditional rental agreements or mortgage contracts. In some cases, tenants may be responsible for repairs and maintenance of the property even though they do not yet own it. Additionally, if disputes arise between landlords and tenants, tenants may have limited recourse under the terms of the agreement. It is best to have an attorney analyze any rent-to-own contract before signing it.
  • Market fluctuations. While locking in a purchase price can provide tenants with financial stability, it also exposes them to the risk of market fluctuations. If property values decrease during the lease term, tenants may find themselves overpaying for the property if they choose to exercise their option to purchase. Conversely, if property values increase significantly, tenants may be unable to afford the purchase price at the end of the lease term.

Consult an experienced real estate lawyer before signing a rent-to-own contract

Rent-to-own agreements can be complex legal documents that may be difficult for tenants to understand fully.

These agreements often contain provisions regarding rent payments, purchase terms, maintenance responsibilities, and other important details that can have significant implications for both parties.

Without proper legal advice, tenants may inadvertently agree to terms that are not in their best interests.

If you are considering a rent-to-own agreement, contact Hocker Law, LLC to see how we can help you decide if rent-to-own is right for you. Schedule an appointment with us today to learn more.

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