Rent to own agreements are really just a way to "force" a down payment savings. Oh, you also have to put up a large sum of money down upfront, and some agreements also make the upkeep/repair responsibility yours during the lease. This means if the furnace goes out, or anything else goes wrong - you have to fix it.
Do yourself a favor and rent somewhere until you can get your credit score up. Lease options have a high potential of turning into a gigantic mess because things change in life - and often the buyer doesn't want, or can't ultimately qualify for the loan when it's time to actually buy the property. Additionally, the property might not be a good deal, or appraise for the purchase price 2-3 years from now. Too much money, too much uncertainty, and too much risk.
Think of it this way. There are very few RTOs on the market, you'll be paying big time for the option whether you exercise it or not, and when you DO get your credit rehabbed, you'll be kicking yourself for having committed to the RTO place when the entire marketplace of available homes is now open to you!
So. fix your credit, save your money, have patience.
All the best,
Be aware that everytime you pull your own credit or a company (credit card, department store, etc.) ~ it lowers your score! Many prospective buyers are not aware of this - so only allow a mortgage lender to do so.
There are a number of companies out there who will charge you a fee to "fix your credit". Personally, I don't believe that's necessary ~ a mortgage lender can advise you at no cost. Also, it's much easier, I think, to work with a local lender rather than one you might find on the internet.
Give the real estate agent your list of "must haves" and the areas you're intersted in, much like you'd do when you're searching for a home to buy. Not all residential rentals are open to a "lease option", so be sure the homes you view will accept that arrangement. The terms of lease options vary...in some case, the owner will require 2 months' security deposit, plus the first month's rent. Others* will want you to deposit a "non-refundable" option fee ~ here in Ohio, it can be 3% of the projected sales price of the home.
There is an option period written into the lease...the time where you must exercise your option to go forward and purchase the home....usually between 1 to 3 years. That is worked out between you and the owner. It is strongly recommended that you have a real estate attorney review any lease option BEFORE you sign it, so that you're clear on what your...and the owner's responsibilities are. Always, always read the fine print.
*You should be aware also that there are large investment companies buying up distressed properties all over the country and turning them into rentals or rent-to-buy. They have their attorneys...you should also have your own attorney to look out for your interests.
Hope this has been helpful. Good luck to you.