I agree with both joe and Neal. I have never rented to own, but it is common in the south. READ your contract; what you sign is USUALLY legally binding. The big advantage is that for someone who either has no down payment or not good credit, it allows you to get into a home. NORMALLY what happens is you sign a contract agreeing to pay "X" $$ per month. In say, 12 months, you can elect to buy the house with some or all of what you've paid constituting a down payment. That means if you go to the bank for a mortgage and the sale price of the house was $100,000, by the end of the year you may have $6000 toward down payment (if $500 per month counted toward that). It varies, so read the contract BEFORE you sign. In another scenario, you rent for a year and if you decide to buy, the owner carries the mortgage with all or part of the payments over that year counting as down payment. On the other side of the coin, if you live there for a year (or the contract term) and then decide that you DON'T want to buy it, you walk away owing nothing (you just paid rent for that time period). With a legal contract (check with a lawyer first) even if the owner died, his beneficiaries would have to honor the initial terms of the contract. Either way, you stand to win. Just be sure that it is in the contract that the owner (seller) is responsible for all maintenance (water heater, A/C, heat, fridge, etc) until the time comes in the contract for you to either "buy" or "decline".