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How to Analyze a Rent to Own Case

How to Analyze a Rent to Own Case

Rent to own cases present special challenges for advocates for several reasons.  First, the law in this area is not well-developed, and concepts created in applicable case law are not routinely understood by practitioners.  Second, the deals themselves are often poorly crafted, or, worse yet, expertly designed to circumvent applicable law.   In either case, the result is confusing written documents that many times do not reflect the true terms of the transaction. 

For a full overview of how to analyze a rent to own case, we recommend watching one of two webinars:


Use the checklist below to issue spot within a particular case.  Note, the legal analysis is specific to Pennsylvania law. 

  1. What is your case posture? 
    1. Defensive pending litigation
    2. Contemplating affirmative litigation
    3. Conflicts with third parties


  1. What is the relationship between the buyer and the seller?
    1. Seller financed mortgage
    2. Installment sales contract (contract for deed)
    3. Spurious lease with option to purchase
    4. True lease with option to purchase
      1. Buyer hasn’t exercised the option
      2. Buyer has exercised the option
    5. Some gray area, where the documents say one thing, but the true transaction is something different
      1. Run remaining analysis under both scenarios


  1. What are your facts?
    1. Client/intake interview questions


  1. What is your evidence?
    1. Document checklist
    2. Repair tracker for client to complete at home