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Rent to Own, Contract sales

Also known as "contract to deed"

Whether you call it 
  • rent to own
  • contract to deed
  • lease to own
  • lease-option
  • lease-purchase
  • land contract
...the "deal" usually involves you spending money for something in addition to shelter.  The vendor (seller) is selling you an additional 'right'.  

First aid
1.  If the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is.
2.  Get the deal in writing
3.  Have YOUR lawyer review the documents, BEFORE you sign
  • realtor may be representing the vendor (seller) not you.
  • vendor's lawyer, manager, or cousin is definitely representing the vendor, not you.
4.  Research the vendor (seller)?  What is their track record?

Key Players
Harbour Portfolio Advisors
Vision Property Management

What's News?
Shameless self promotion...but in a good cause
Practice Area: Advocate
Hot issue: Rent to own
Keywords: rent scam, 
Posted:  July 10. 2018

Focus on a rent to own scam in South Euclid Ohio. Audio only, but worth a listen, but the program glosses over whether these "homebuyers" have any legal recourse after investing $12,000 in repairs on what amounts to a month-to-month rental agreement. 
Keywords: Stabilize, rent to own, renter rights.
Posted June 29, 2018.

Apr 21, 2017 Cincinnati Business Courier Cincinnati sues ‘predatory’ housing firm
"The city of Cincinnati is suing a private investment firm that it claims sold foreclosed homes on high-interest installment loans to poor residents who couldn’t obtain traditional mortgages."

APRIL 20, 2017 New York Times Cincinnati Sues Seller of Foreclosed Homes, Claiming Predatory Behavior
"In a sweeping lawsuit, Cincinnati took aim at one of the nation’s largest sellers of foreclosed homes, Harbour Portfolio Advisors, saying that the firm owes more than $360,000 in unpaid fines, fees and violation notices. The firm failed to properly maintain dozens of homes, the city claims, leading in one case to a child’s testing positive for lead poisoning."

December 28, 2016 Rent to own scam sells lead poisoning to tenant purchasers
      New York Times tells the story of a "rent to own" purchasers who ended up with Lead Poisoning after the "seller: ducked the city of Baltimore code enforcement for years. Seller-Financed Deals Are Putting Poor People in Lead-Tainted Homes.
     Here's another version of the story closer to home. "Families find that renting may not lead to ownership." Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports: "A North Braddock woman is fighting to stay in the home she thought she owned. Jacqueline Greene and her children live in a rent-to-own home, and after pouring thousands of dollars into the house to make it habitable, she could lose it after falling behind on rent payments. The property is owned by a limited liability company tied to Vision Property Management, a South Carolina-based firm that bills itself as the country’s largest provider of “affordable Lease-to-Own property opportunities.”
     Update #1: Vision and another company based out of Texas are operating in Cincinnati.  They operate under the name / subsidiary Kaja Holdings.  

October 6, 2016, PRI Marketplace, "In Detroit, a risky alternative to mortgages"
From the story: "Here’s the catch: Eddie Cave still doesn’t actually own this house. There was some fine print in the contract he signed with the sellers, specifying that he would be responsible for all of the unpaid taxes on the house. They said the tax bill would be $1,400 dollars, and it turned out to be even more."

September 27, 2016 Rent-to-own: Court case sheds light on business practice
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shines a light on the "rent to own" business in an article describing how some of the schemes work. From the article: "Erlean Hall had always wanted to own her own home. So when she saw a sign advertising rent-to-own homes and called the listed phone number, she was happy to hear about how she might be able to purchase one. 'I always wanted to own,” said Ms. Hall, who cleans houses for a living. “That’s anybody’s dream. It doesn’t matter what your situation is. It’s something that you want of yours, something that you want to pass down to your kids.' After calling the number on the sign, Ms. Hall said she was directed to a website for Vision Property Management where she could look at homes for sale. She was encouraged to use her tax refund money as a down payment, and was told she would not need to go through a credit check. 'I said, ‘That’s good, because my credit’s not that great.’ ”.

September 24, 2016, Perils of land reports: "Alison Goebel, deputy director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center, said her organization is just beginning to comprehend the magnitude of the problem in Ohio. 'I don’t think this was as big of a problem five years ago as it is today,' Goebel said. 'You’ve seen some bigger companies grow and get into it.' Ian Beniston said. “[They’re] buying up literally thousands of houses across the country.' He said YNDC has seen it in their neighborhood assessments when they are producing action plans. Problem properties are frequently linked to land contracts."

May 5, 2016, NonProfit Quarterly Contract for Deed

Spencer Wells,
Aug 18, 2017, 2:03 PM