You are desperate!
Your Credit or Finances, or both, will not allow you to go the conventional route:
You need the Seller to help you out!
The Seller will know it, and you are going to pay dearly for this service:
There aren't too many altruistic Sellers out there.
The terms that can be written into a Lease/Option can be dangerous to you:
How long is the Option period?
How much money are you putting in to the Option?
What happens if you are not able to execute the Option?
How do you know what your financial situation will be 2-5 years from now?
How much is the rent in the meantime?
Who will be responsible for maintenance and repair in the meantime?
What will be the Market Value of the home in 2-5 years?
What will be the Selling price 2-5 years from now?
This is the Ultimate Caveat Emptor!
Rent To Own is a better deal for the Seller than it would ever be for a potential Buyer.
The basic concept is finding a way to "force" savings towards a down payment by including a portion of the monthly rental that goes towards that savings. You pay your rent every month and your Landlord deducts a pre-determined amount to hold in a special bank account, called an "escrow" account. Your Landlord holds that money until you have saved up enough---through this "forced-savings" method---to meet a down payment to purchase the home.
The terms of the purchase price, including the down payment amount, and the amount to be set aside from the rental for down payment, are all set down at the time of lease signing.
It's all about helping the renter/tenant save up enough money for a down payment to buy a home (in this case, the one you're renting). But this is a better deal for the Seller because he gets to lock in a purchase price and a buyer today for a future sale.
Saving money for a down payment? Well, heck, you can do that on your own.
If you are dedicated to the idea of buying your own home, you can create your own savings plan to save up enough money for a down payment. And when you have saved up enough for a down payment, if that takes a year or two or more, YOU get to decide on the price you're willing to pay for the house at that time based on current market conditions. You won't be locked in to a price that may be a lot higher than what the house is worth in the future.
With Rent To Own you'll be locked in both to the house and to the price, even if it takes you 3 years to save enough through the forced savings of the rent payments. What happens if three years from now your life situation has changed? Maybe you need a bigger/smaller home. Maybe your employment has relocated. Maybe your credit or income is insufficient to qualify for a mortgage loan.
Find a way to save up on your own; not with Rent To Own.
Sit down with a local Mortgage Banker and get yourself prequalified, too. You may find you're better qualified than you think you are, and, if you're not, at least you'll know how much loan your income and credit qualify you for, and how much you have to save towards down payment and closing costs.
Finding a legit rent to own company can be challenging! The best advise I have is to search in the BBB (better business bureau) for ratings and handled complaints. You can also search on Google. I am in TX so we really do not have Rent to Own companies, we do have Homes listed as Rent to Own. I just always advise my clients to get an Attorney to oversee all the paperwork.