I see you have many great questions. May I suggest seeking one Realtor to assist all your inquiries and deliver data pertaining to your rental needs. Many homes may seem overpriced for rentals, but with the distressed market and many homeowners being forced as tenants...Many owners/landlords are in competion with so many other rentals that a reduced lease is highly possible with the right negotiating. I can explain the 1 yr lease legal rule to you, when I here from you hopefully.
You can negotiate some on rent but how much is situational I would say.
Give me a call if you need any further help.
Prudential Network Realty