Sandwich Lease Options: Rent to Own 101

August 17, 2016 by Marty Orefice | Rent to Own

Consider assigning your lease-option to someone else before you give up your option fee.
Understanding a sandwich lease-option on a rent to own home can be confusing.

A sandwich lease is when an investor decides to lease a home out that he is already leasing himself.

General rent to own leases are already a bit tricky.

You might be asking yourself: What is a sandwich lease and how do I know if I am or will be a part of one? The answer is simple when you think of the leases as an actual sandwich.

What is a sandwich lease?

A sandwich lease is basically a sublease or sublet. A sandwich lease is when a landlord rents a property to a tenant and then that tenant rents the property to another tenant. Not all landlords allow sandwich leases.

Many people decide to sandwich lease because they signed up for a long lease term and unexpectedly had to leave. It is very common among students who rent an apartment for a year but may need to take a semester off for an internship or study abroad.

Some investors do this when they believe they can charge a higher amount for rent than the landlord is currently charging.

What is a sandwich lease option?

A homeowner options a property to what we will call “the middleman.” The middleman then options the property to you, the person ultimately leasing the property. Your payments in a sandwich lease may be a little bit higher because a middleman is getting paid too.

This is important to know when you are leasing a home. You should find out who owns the property and who will be collecting your payments.

The most basic explanation of a sandwich lease is to compare it to an actual sandwich. Think of a sandwich:

You have two pieces of bread and the meat in the middle.

The meat in the middle is the middleman. They are doing the most work, but they are expecting the greatest profit overall.

This may seem dangerous for the person who is leasing the property, but in reality, this is an easy way to obtain a property. Rent to own homes are a smaller market than traditional real estate.

By participating in a sandwich lease option, you can be sure that you are getting a property when you need one and that you are able to have the option to purchase the home after you are done leasing it.

How Does a Sandwich Lease Option Work?

Basically, the middleman or investor signs a lease-option for the house with the seller. The middleman or the investor then options the house to you. So, in the end, there are two separate options, but one final buyer.

The middleman lease-options the home to you. Often times, people who participate in these types of leases don’t actually know the original homeowner.

If you are planning to do a lease-option on a home, you should ask who the current owner of the home is so that you know all of the parties involved.

When the home is listed, it will likely be listed by the middleman and it likely won’t be advertised as a sandwich lease.

In fact, most of the time the final person who holds the lease on the home will have no idea that they are a part of a sandwich lease-option.

That is why it is always important to ask who the homeowner is and who will be collecting your payments.

Sandwich lease-options require little investment for the middleman, so you want to make sure that the price you are paying for the home is accurate.

Sandwich Lease-Option Terms:

Setting the terms and conditions when dealing with a sandwich lease-option is one of the most important parts to making sure that you are benefiting from the deal.

There are some basic things to consider in a lease-option sandwich:

First, always remember that everything is negotiable.

The most important part of any lease-option is making sure that all parties are benefiting. A lack of credit on the end buyers part can often lead to a large down payment when creating an option, but be sure that the amount you are paying is still fair.

Every sandwich lease-option term can be negotiated, including price, the amount of money you put down, how long you have to pay that money back and your monthly payment.

Contact a real estate agent or a lawyer to help you with your contract. While this may cost more initially, it is worth the money to invest in legal advice before you put your savings into a home.

Be sure you view all of the forms the seller drafts during the process as well and feel free to ask about the lease-option contract that the current seller and the middleman have together.

Be sure to check out our list of questions that buyers frequently have about rent to own contracts before you sign.

Pros and Cons of a Sandwich Lease Option:

The pros and cons of rent to own homes are not always obvious. Many times, deciding if rent to own is the best option for you requires a lot of consultation.

As if deciding to rent to own isn’t confusing enough, adding things like sandwich lease-option into the process doesn’t make it any easier.

Thankfully, sandwich lease-options really don’t affect the end buyer that much.

That is the major pro of becoming involved in a sandwich lease-option – often times people don’t even know that they are in one.

The cons of being the end buyer in a sandwich lease option are that you are generally paying more to lease the home than the middleman did to lease the same place.

You must be wary of this, but it can also work to your benefit.


Because if you, the end buyer, suffer from a really poor credit score, a sandwich lease may allow you to obtain a place that you may not otherwise qualify for.

This means if your financial situation is poor, you can still qualify for a home.

The most important thing to remember is that your agreement still must be beneficial and fair for you. This is when hiring a lawyer to review your contract comes in handy.

Sum It Up: Sandwich Leases

The sandwich lease has three parties: the original homeowner, the middleman and the prospective buyer.

The middleman options the home from the homeowner.

He then seeks out someone to rent the home with the option to purchase.

This person rents the home but is often required to put down a larger payment than the person who originally optioned the home.

The payments this person makes may also be higher too, but should still be fair.

The person making the final payments is the one with the final option to own the home.

Mosby Front by Glenda Cherry is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Marty Orefice

About The Author

Marty Orefice

Martin Orefice is a real estate investor who has been in the industry for over a decade. He has experience with rent to own deals from all sides—as a buyer, seller and investor. He created to provide the #1 resource where people can find information about all things rent to own.

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