The answer is- maybe. But maybe not.
My upfront disclaimer is that I am not a legal expert of any sort, nor am I a financial or tax expert. I can only tell you, as an owner of rental properties, my experience in researching LLCs as a potential entity structuring method and the results of that research. You should not make any decisions regarding the structuring of your properties without consulting an expert in the field.
Whether you should put your properties into an LLC or not depends on your situation and what your goal by doing so is. How many properties do you own, what states are they in, are you just wanting the legal protection from the LLC, would it benefit your financing options, or do you just want to sound cool and say you own a company?
I say that last one with all sincerity but in my experience, that last one is a big driver for investors. Maybe it’s not that you necessarily want to seem cool because you own a company but because you just assume that you should create a company to hold your properties. Shoot, I thought that at one time. We hear about it a lot, we hear the gurus talk about asset protection, so we assume we need it. No harm, but let’s get educated first.
Benefits of an LLC
Why pursue an LLC at all? An LLC can offer both asset protection and tax advantages.
- Asset Protection. I think this is the big one that drives investors to pursue an LLC. The big liability with a rental property is if a tenant slips and falls and wants to sue you. You know as well as I do, people will sue for anything these days and as soon as someone knows you own properties, you are an immediate target. If you aren’t protected in some way against this, all of your personal assets may be at risk if you are sued.
- Tax Advantages. Putting your properties in an LLC can offer options of pass-through taxation, avoidance of double-taxation, you can get taxed as a partnership, or if you have the LLC taxed as an S-Corp you may be able to use that to reduce self-employment and other taxes. All of those benefits would have to be tailored to your specific structure and situation, and not all of those options would apply to everyone, but those are some of the things that may be of benefit.
- Seriously sounding cool. I mean, we all want that, right?
Disadvantages of an LLC
Whoa, wait, there are disadvantages? Ha, I didn’t even know that when I first started out. I’d like to also call these disadvantages- “realities”.