Why set up an LLC for my rental property business?
In order to transfer property into an LLC, you may need to set one up if you have not already. The main advantages of forming an LLC include limited liability and tax benefits.
This means that your liability for certain lawsuits or business debts is limited to your investment in your business. With respect to a rental business, creditors could take your rental property but not your personal home, even if you still owe them money. However, state law may place limitations on your liability protection. For example, if you personally screen tenants or perform maintenance work, you could potentially be sued personally in some states for those actions, even if you have an LLC.
LLCs also benefit from tax flexibility. An LLC is not a tax shelter and your profits may still be taxed on your personal tax return. However, an LLC does give you the option to elect S-Corporation treatment, which may allow you to reclassify some of your earnings to qualify for a lower tax rate. Additionally, there may be some estate planning benefits as well.
You may want to also keep in mind that an LLC requires you to pay fees to the government and requires annual paperwork. Many states have annual requirements in order to maintain an LLC. You may find, however, that the benefits outweigh the costs.
How do I transfer rental property to an LLC?
If you choose to form an LLC for your rental business, or already have one, you may want to transfer your rental property to the LLC. This means that the title to the property will need to be transferred from your name to the LLC. This is similar to the process for selling a property to another person.
Typically, to transfer real property, a Quitclaim Deed is used. Depending on state law, the Quitclaim Deed may need to be recorded with the local county, or another agency. There may be other legal requirements, or tax consequences as well. When transferring property to an LLC, you may want to talk to a lawyer about what other documentation may be helpful to protect your rights and your overall growth strategy for your real estate business.
Can I transfer my mortgage to an LLC?
When you transfer a property to your LLC, you are effectively selling it to your LLC. Generally, when you sell a property, you are required to pay off the mortgage and any other debts secured by the property.
Whether you can transfer your mortgage to an LLC likely depends on your mortgage agreement and your lender. Depending on the type of loan you received, your lender may not be as receptive to transferring your mortgage. Some may allow you to do so, but only after refinancing, and potentially securing the loan with a personal guarantee from you.
If your mortgage was intended for your personal or primary residence, rather than for a rental property, a lender may require you to modify your loan. Primary residences enjoy more legal protections than rental or commercial properties, which enables lenders to provide more favorable terms for these loans. Most mortgages allow lenders to accelerate payments on the loan and demand repayment in full immediately if a borrower violates its terms, such as by converting a primary residence into a rental property. In this situation, you may be able to refinance with a new lender, or your LLC may secure a new loan to pay you to satisfy your prior mortgage.
Who owns the property in an LLC?
When property is transferred to an LLC, it owns the property. The owners or members of the LLC still have control over the property, typically in a proportional share to their ownership of the LLC (like shareholders in a corporation). Decisions to sell the property, or what the owners may do with it, can be limited by the Operating Agreement that controls the LLC.
If there is only one owner for the LLC, that single owner has 100% control over how the property is used and whether to sell it back to themselves or to someone else. However, when an LLC chooses to sell, debts secured by the property may need to be resolved first.
Transferring a rental property to an LLC has advantages and disadvantages, depending on the owner's business and personal goals. Understanding the implications for your specific situation before transferring rental property to an LLC, however, may lead to a different decision that is more suited to your goals. For example, transferring property into a Living Trust is another popular option that may also provide similar protections and benefits, and can be part of your estate planning.
If you want to learn more about what an LLC can do for your business, Rocket Lawyer Incorporation Services make it fast, affordable, and simple. If you have more legal questions about transferring your rental property to an LLC, or other property management issues, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.