Your Legal Rights


Is It A Good Idea To Rent-to-Own? You may have decided to enter into a rent-to-own agreement because you can’t get a loan to purchase a home. Or, your landlord may have offered to let you take over the payments on a home you’ve been renting. But, you may face some problems.

What Kind of Problems? This is a situation in which you have very few legal rights. Generally, the seller of the land or mobile home agrees to put the deed to the land or the title to the mobile home in your name only after you have made the very last payment. This means that during all the years you are making payments, the seller remains the owner of the property. Because the deed or title to the property you are purchasing remains in the name of the seller until ALL the payments are made, the seller keeps the ability to sell the property to someone else or to borrow money using the property as collateral even while you are making the payments. The property could even be foreclosed on and you would not have to be notified. Are There Things I Can Do to Protect Myself? If you still decide to go ahead with a rent-to-own agreement, be sure to do the following: • Make sure your entire agreement is in writing and let a lawyer go over it with you before you sign it;

• Be sure all parties (and spouses) sign the agreement, get and keep a signed and dated copy of the agreement in a safe place; • If land is involved, get a copy of the property tax ticket from the Treasurer’s office so you will know whether you are buying it for a fair price and you will know for sure that the seller actually owns the property; • Record a copy of the rent-to-own agreement in the Circuit Court Clerk’s office in the county where the home is located; • If you make any payments in cash, get a receipt for every payment you make; keep every receipt or cancelled check in a safe place because these receipts are the only proof you have that you made each payment on time; • Do not agree to be responsible for paying taxes and/or insurance on the property while you are renting-to-own.

This is legal information. If you want legal advice that is specific to your situation, you need to talk with an attorney. To see if you are eligible for free legal advice or representation, you can contact Southwest Virginia Legal Aid at or you can call toll free at 1-888-201-2772. | 1-888-201-2772

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