The good news is that there are some savvy investors around that are willing to take the risk on those who have had credit problems but are attempting to get their lives back in order. The bad news is that this good will often comes at a rather high price to the consumers. Getting into trouble with credit takes a while from which to recover. For many the process is long and filled with pitfalls and missteps along the way. For those that are living the nightmare of poor credit there are times in which the situation must seem hopeless.
For this reason investors that offer lease to own real estate to those with less than spectacular credit are often viewed as saviors on the one hand and villains on the other. However, they are taking a risk that others are unwilling to take on a person that has proven not to be the best credit risk in the business. In other words, many would find that they are justified by charging a higher price or interest rate than traditional lending institutions will charge. After all, it is their money that is on the line if the lessee decides to default on the contract. It is also their money that will be required to make any repairs that will be needed if eviction becomes a necessary conclusion.
For investors who are interested in 'buy and hold' investing this is one way of making that system work in their favor. Many times the 'buyers' will find another property after a couple of years and will have essentially rented the property for a specified amount of time. At other times they will seek alternative financing once they have been able to straighten out their credit situations. Either way there are many occasions when the property is returned to the investor and has turned a relatively decent profit while holding those who took some degree of 'pride of ownership' in the property during that time rather than ordinary renters who often have little or no regard for the condition of the landlord's property.
There is more than one way that a lease to own deal can work. The most common however, is that there is a specified amount of time typically 2-5 years in which those that are leasing the property can live in the property with a portion of the monthly lease being applied towards a down payment for the property once they are able to get traditional financing. If a twenty percent down payment is achieved during that time the odds of them being approved for a loan are greatly improved. If they (being the lessees) combine this opportunity with serious efforts to improve their credit scores then there should be no problem achieving this.
As a real estate investor this situation is so much more attractive than renters for many reasons. First of all, the maintenance in these cases becomes the problem of the lessees rather than your problem, you have 'renters' that are hoping to have ownership of the property in time, and you can charge a little more each month for rent in order to cover the money being applied to the down payment on the property.