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If you have a lease-purchase contract, you may be legally obligated to buy the property when the lease expires. This can be problematic for many reasons, especially if you aren’t able to secure a mortgage. Lease-option contracts are almost always preferable to lease-purchase contracts because they offer more flexibility and you don’t risk getting sued if you are unwilling or unable to buy the home when the lease expires.
A dual-tracking process appeared to be in use by many lenders, however, where the lender would simultaneously talk to the borrower about a "loan modification", but also move ahead with a foreclosure sale of the borrower's property. Borrowers were heard to complain that they were misled by these practices and would often be "surprised" that their home had been sold at foreclosure auction, as they believed they were in a "loan modification process". California has enacted legislation to eliminate this type of "dual-tracking" - The Homeowner Bill of Rights - AB 278, SB 900, That went into effect on January 1, 2013.
Once you fully understand all the terms of the rent-to-own agreement -- and have had an attorney look it over and provide feedback -- it’s time to finalize the deal. Of course, signatures from both parties will be required at this time, as well as upfront payments such as the agreed-upon “option fee,” the monetary consideration that is necessary to make the rent-to-own contract binding.