Hayden Ward

Should Your Vacation Rental Property Become an LLC?

short-term rental llc

The information contained herein is for general information purposes only. CBIZ Insurance Services, Inc. (“CBIZ”) does not provide legal, tax or accounting advice and does not make any warranties of any kind about the completeness or accuracy of this information.  Any action you take upon the information contained herein is strictly at your own risk.  It will be your responsibility to direct any specific questions you have regarding the formation of your business entity to your legal counsel and/or accountant. 

Selecting the right business structure for your short-term rental property is important. As a small business, you may be trying to determine the right business framework for you — likely either a sole proprietorship or limited liability company (LLC).  For many vacation rental owners, minimizing risk is top of mind, and an LLC is a way to gain added protection in addition to vacation rental insurance. The ability to have extra safeguards for personal risks exposure is without a doubt a major highlight of becoming one.

There are many different factors that play a role in deciding whether or not to make your short-term rental business an LLC. To help you determine the best structure for your small business, we will walk you through what an LCC is, who it benefits, and how to become one. Keep in mind that it is best to evaluate your financial situation and to speak with an advisor before moving forward with a decision.

What is an LLC?

According to Investopedia, “A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a corporate structure in the United States whereby owners are not personally liable for the company’s debts or liabilities.” And LegalZoom simply states “Unlike a sole proprietor, where the owner remains responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business, in an LLC it’s the LLC that’s responsible for the business’s debts and liabilities. This means, in most cases, LLC members are protected from the creditors of the LLC and also from any lawsuits which may arise against the LLC.”

Note that LLCs are regulated by individual states rather than the country as a whole, so the process and rules will differ. Therefore, you will need to research the specifics of your state. 

Why is an LLC Beneficial to Short-Term Rental Owners?

  • An LLC limits your personal liability and protect your assets. If you were to ever have a lawsuit filed against you, the only assets at stake would be those owned by the LLC; not your personal assets. Although vacation rental insurance would help you in the event that a claim is made by someone who was injured while staying at your property, LLCs provide assurance that only the LLC’s assets would be considered. If your business is not filed as an LLC, then your personal assets would be fair game. 
  • It makes it easier to keep your rental properties separate from each other if you own multiple. Setting up separate LLCs for your properties will help to protect each one. If a lawsuit was made against one property, the others would not be affected. 
  • It enables you to easily separate your personal expenses from your business expenses. You can open bank accounts, enter contracts, hire employees, and obtain business licenses and permits under your LLC. By creating a separate bank account for your LLC, your personal expenses are not affected. This will also make it easier to claim your business expenses when taxes are due. 
  • It allows pass-through taxation and the ability to potentially reduce your taxes if you pay self-employment tax. With becoming an LLC, you acquire the benefit of having the income made from your vacation rental “passed-through” to your individual income tax return. This can minimize the amount taken out of taxes. However, if you set up your LLC as a “C” or “S” corporation, you may be able to reduce your taxes if you pay self-employment. You will pay yourself as if you are an employee of your own company. 

 

Who Should Become an LLC?

Any short-term property owner can benefit from becoming an LLC. Regardless if you own just one property or several vacation homes throughout the U.S., there are several advantages to creating one. Keep in mind that there are costs to set up the LLC and possible ongoing costs once you establish an LLC. These will depend on the states in which you register. Overall, it’s best to ask for guidance from a financial planner and evaluate your financial situation to decide whether or not an LLC is the best decision for you. 

What Are the Steps to Become an LLC?

We’ve outlined the major steps that most companies take to become an LLC. As with any major decision about your business, you will want to work with your business advisor, such as an attorney, before you start the process. 

1. If you have an existing loan on your property, contact your lender to find out if they allow a title transfer. Look out for any additional requirements for allowing the transfer such as an increase in interest or an assumption fee charge.

2. Pick an available business name. Ultimately you can choose whatever name you would like as long as it has not already been registered in your state and is appropriate. A good way to check the availability of a name for your business is to search on your Secretary of State’s webpage. 

Many property owners have opted to name their LLCs the address of their property. Doing so makes your LLC recognizable and not as much of a challenge registering it because your address is completely unique to you.

3. Fill out the Articles of Organization which can be found on the Secretary of State website. This document will outline the basic details of your company. Think of it as a birth certificate for your LLC.

If you are struggling with filling out a portion of it, do a quick Google search of “How do I fill out the Articles of Organization for ‘insert state name’?”

4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement. This document outlines routine business processes, how company disputes are resolved, member duties, and more. Think of this as an action plan for your business. 

5. Obtain state required permits and licenses and register your LLC with your state. Depending on the state in which you are filing, there may be a filing fee. 

6. Transfer your title to the LLC so you can ensure that the LLC has full ownership rather than relying solely on you. In order to do this, you must create a Quit Claim Deed. This will permit you to become the “Grantor” and the LLC as the “Grantee.”  Your County Clerk’s website will have instructions on how to file a Quit Claim Deed.

7. Create a separate bank account for your LLC and update your rental leases. Moving forward, everything should be deposited in your LLC’s bank account and state the LLC as the owner. 

Becoming an LLC doesn’t need to be overwhelming or take an inordinate amount of time, in fact many short-term rental owners turn to online sources like LegalZoom.

In What State Should I Register My LLC?

LLCs should be filed in the state where it is legally transacting business. If you are conducting business for your vacation rental property in your home state, that’s where you would file. If you have properties in multiple states, you would need to form an LLC in your home state and then register the other properties (that are in other states) as foreign LLCs. 

Protect Your Assets and Property With Vacation Rental Insurance

Creating an LLC for your vacation rental property can be extremely beneficial to you as the owner. However, don’t forget to include vacation rental insurance to the mixture. Insuring your vacation rental home through CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance can give you extra peace of mind. Rest easy at night by protecting your assets and your property. Speak with a CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance expert today or begin your free quote.

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CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance, a division of CBIZ Insurance Services,Inc., is the largest insurer of short-term vacation rental properties in the United States. As part of an $850 million New York Stock Exchange traded company (CBZ), we are the first broker to develop specific policy coverage to meet the needs for vacation rental properties and the amenities offered by these businesses. We have insured vacation rental properties since 2002.

The CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance team knows insurance, specifically the risks and exposures related to short-term vacation rentals.We won't confuse you with technical "insurance speak" ~ our representatives are well versed in explaining your coverage in plain English. With hands-on, personal customer service, we guarantee swift communication and a 24/7 claims team that is ready to respond to your call any time of the day. As specialist in the industry, we leverage our knowledge and passion to ensure you and your business are adequately protected.