Your In-Depth Lease Option Questions Answered

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Last week I wrote a very detailed article on how I personally structure my lease option deals, including how much cash flow I get, how much option money I get from a tenant/buyer, and how much money I try and make when a tenant/buyer finally exercises their option.

This week I’m going to answer a few additional questions about when I do lease options. First off, I always tell a landlord that I am a private real estate investor and that my company helps people with less than perfect credit to achieve home ownership. And that we are going to be putting a family in the house who will hopefully own the house one day.

Then I continue to tell the landlord that throughout the lease term his rent is guaranteed by my company. That if for any reason the tenant we place in the house does not make a rent payment, it’s my problem because the landlord will get his rent no matter what.

Once you tell a landlord you will guarantee his rent…

And explain to him how you do it and also provide testimonials from past landlords (if you have them) then the deal pretty much closes itself as long as the landlord is sufficiently motivated.

Now, another question the landlord may ask is what are the chances that a tenant/buyer is going to end up buying the house? Well, when the market was hot, a lot of people ended up purchasing their houses. That’s because everyone who had a pulse could get financing.

But these days you’re lucky if you get 50% of your tenants to buy the house. (And this 50% includes people that you thoroughly screened. If you let just anyone live in your house you’d be lucky to get 10%.)

So let’s say you found a motivated landlord and you found a tenant/buyer…

How exactly do you structure the lease-option deal?

With the landlord I use a document called the “Residential Lease With Option to Purchase.” It’s basically a lease that states I also have the option to buy the house within 5 years. These days I always try and get a 5 year term to give myself plenty of time to sell the house.

I also have the landlord sign several other documents which are disclaimers to protect my behind. For the tenant/buyer I use a lease and then I use a separate option agreement. (Don’t combine the two.) And again, I have several documents which the tenant/buyer has to sign to protect myself.

For the tenant/buyer, I give them a 12 month lease and then if they’re close to buying the house or are still working towards it, I will of course extend the lease when the 12 months is up.

Also, one critically important thing about lease options so you don’t lose money at the beginning, is that when you sign the paperwork with a landlord do one of two things:

Either have the paperwork state you will not start paying him rent until you find a tenant for the property… or… have the paperwork state that you have 60 days before you have to make a rent payment. Obviously, go for option one first, but if the landlord isn’t quite motivated enough, then do the 60-day-time frame.

There are a million nuances of doing a lease option, so my advice is to find a local investor who’s closed several lease options in your area and have them teach you how to do it correctly.

Photo: Stuart Miles /

About Author

Jason R. Hanson is the founder of National Real Estate Investor Month and the author of “How to Build a Real Estate Empire”. Jason specializes in purchasing properties “subject-to” and has purchased millions of dollars worth of property using none of his own cash or credit.


  1. Hi Jason,
    Great article with a lot of awesome tips.. A couple questions:

    1. How much of the deposit ($5,000.00) you collect from the future buyer do you give to the seller/landlord?

    2. This might be a dumb questions but anyway you can give us an idea of the forms/docs you use to cover your butt with both the seller & buyer?

    Thank You,
    -Brian McC

  2. Brian,

    I do not give any of the $5,000 deposit to the landlord. In all of the lease options I have done, I have never given a cent to a landlord. I don’t give them any money because I am taking the property of their hands and I am guaranteeing their rent.

    As for your second question about the paperwork I use, it’s a lot of paperwork and would take me forever to type it all here. I will answer that question in next weeks post, so look for it this weekend.


  3. I think it is risky to give the tenant an option to buy the property. Once they have an option, they have an equitable interest in the property. I am all in favor of Lease-Options, but there is a better way I think to protect yourself. None the less, good to spread the word about this affordable, effective, high leverage tool.

  4. Cliff T.

    I just took Wendy Patton’s course. She keeps saying in her Realtor scripts that the Sandwich Lease Option will pay for the agent’s commission UP FRONT. But she never explains how that happens exactly. Does anyone know where that bit comes into play? I don’t plan on giving that much as an option fee, so how does the agent’s commission get paid when doing a Sandwich Lease Option on an active listing? Thanks!

  5. Stacy Jones

    Can you structure this as part of a 1031 exchange? Our current tenant is interested in buying our rental but not for another year. He’s been renting it for 5 years now. We really want to sell this and move our investments to the West Coast in a 1031. Thoughts?

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