The areas you are talking about are two very different areas. University HS area is in and around Brentwood and Short Ave is closer to the Marina in Mar Vista.
In my 22 years as an agent in Los Angeles, I have just not come across to many rent to own aka lease option. Even though prices have gone down significantly since 2005 many property owners are reluctant to enter into a lease option situation because the purchase price of the home will need to be negotiated now. The homeowners are not typically comfortable at being contracted to sell their property at a lower price now than a potential higher future value, that is why so many property owners are willing to lease their property now and wait for prices to increase.
Since it seems you think you are unable to purchase home now, I recommend you speak to a mortgage broker and see what he says about what you are able to qualify for at this time. It things still are not penciling out for you now, I recommend you work with the mortgage broker for a house/condo purchase game plan. What is it you need to do now and work towards buying a home in the future and how long will it take? Do you need to raise your credit scores or need a larger down payment, save for closing costs etc.? There are some, although not many FHA approved condo buildings you may be able to purchase a condo now, with as little as 3% down + closing costs.
There is really much you need to discuss with both a good Realtor and mortgage broker. I am more than happy to discuss with you all your options and refer you to an equally excellent mortgage broker to assist you in starting you house purchase game plan started.
Best of Success,
RE/MAX Westside Properties
CRS,GRI, CDPE, SFR designations