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Why Renting to Own Still Leaves a Bad Taste

5 July 2013

While renting to own homes can be a great option for those that don’t have the credit or the clout to get a mortgage on their own, it still sometimes leaves a bad taste in the mouths of consumers. Doesn’t rent to own come with huge interest fees and costs attached? And isn’t it all too easy to become scammed in the process? For some, rent to own just seems like one of those options that’s never good – no matter how great it sounds. Unfortunately one Ottawa family has found out the hard way that this is sometimes the case.

It was the answer to all of Chantal Scott’s problems. When she and James Cronier signed a rent to own contract with Golden Oaks Rent 2 Own Canada, they were finally going to have a place to put their large brood. With six children crammed into a small public housing unit, they heard that they could sign on with Golden Oaks for a rent to own home. A much larger home, for just a $10,000 down payment and $1,800 in rent from thereon out. In approximately five years they’d own the home and be able to take out their own mortgage on it. To help them do that, they’d even get their down payment back at the end of the five years.

Scott and her family moved into their new home on June 21; and on that same day she was contacted by someone she didn’t know, asking for 12 post-dated rent cheques. These, the man said, were needed so that he could take out a mortgage on the property right away.

Suspicious, Scott phoned the owner of Golden Oaks, Jean-Claude Lacasse, to ask about the man and the cheques that she had given. With her calls gone unanswered, she decided to take her concern to the next level and phoned a lawyer.

The lawyer Scott spoke with told her that the company had many lawsuits against them – and CBC later found out that 18 suits in total were filed; and for a total of $2.5 million. Investors phoned Scott and her husband later on, telling them that they also have lawsuits against the company; and one of them told Scott that she and her family had to leave the premises right away.

Less than a week into their new “dream” home, and they had nothing – no shelter over their heads, because their old place had already been rented back out.

For Scott and her family, things worked out okay. She phoned city housing and they were able to get the family back into their old home. But still, she says, they’re living out of boxes and suitcases have been through an ordeal they won’t soon forget. They’ve been given back their down payment, but it’s little relief when you’re facing neighbours you’ve already told you were leaving the area.

Of course rent to own home stories aren’t always terrible, and there are some real opportunities to be had with them. However, to make sure they turn into a dream and not disaster for you, make sure you have a lawyer from the very beginning. While this may not have even helped Scott and her family, as all lawsuits were filed within the past 18 months, it does offer a little protection in a situation where you often have very little.

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