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1 Reader Question: Should You Get a LLC or Corporation for Your Rentals?

decide LLC or corporation

The decision between forming a LLC (Limited Liability Company) or corporation comes with pros and cons for each. Neither is inherently superior, so determining which structure suits your unique business and financial goals best is important. Some factors to consider include legal liability, taxes, compliance costs, flexibility and drafting services available.

Limited Liability Company or LLC

A LLC creates a separate legal entity offering personal liability protection for your business assets and income. It also avoids double taxation since business income and losses are passed through to your personal tax return. LLCs tend to be more flexible and less regulated than corporations. However, LLCs typically require more annual compliance and administration. LLCs can also be more expensive to form based on fees charged by attorneys or service providers drafting the necessary paperwork.


A corporation also establishes a separate legal entity but offers more comprehensive liability protection than an LLC. Corporations are taxed separately from personal income, allowing deferring or minimizing taxes paid at the business level. However, corporations face double taxation since dividends paid out to owners are also taxed. Corporations typically have higher compliance costs than LLCs due to more stringent regulations and reporting requirements. Corporation formation fees are often lower cost than LLCs due to more standardized paperwork.

For small real estate businesses or rental property holdings, an LLC frequently makes the most sense. Its lesser complexity, lower costs (both in fees and compliance) and flexibility suit smaller operations well. An LLC can provide sufficient legal protection and tax benefits for modest income and few rental properties. It avoids burdening a smaller business with the high compliance fees, taxes and regulatory requirements of a corporation.

As holdings and income grow over time, the benefits of a corporation may outweigh costs. The extra liability protection, ability to defer or reduce business level taxes, and ability to raise capital through selling company shares appeal more to larger, more complex businesses. While still more work than an LLC, a corporation becomes viable and in some cases necessary for operating a sizable real estate portfolio, many rental units or high amounts of business income.

Some other factors to weigh include your risk tolerance, financial and business goals, number of owners/members, and available resources. If limiting personal liability and maximizing tax benefits at lower costs and effort seem most important, an LLC may prove the better choice. If professional management and corporate governance take higher priority, a corporation likely suits better. The structure you choose depends entirely on balancing costs versus benefits based on your unique situation and objectives.

Whether to form an LLC or corporation for rental property holdings comes down to objectives, size, resources and risk tolerance. An LLC offers more flexibility and lower costs but less liability protection and complex tax structuring. A corporation provides stronger liability shielding, more tax benefits and opportunities for raising capital but with greater complexity, expense and ongoing management needs. Weigh all factors thoroughly to determine which choice best safeguards personal assets while enabling business success and growth. While not necessarily a “once and done” decision, choosing the right structure upfront avoids costly and complicated migrations down the road. Staying informed on changes to laws, regulations, fees and service options over time also supports optimizing and adapting your business entity Design as needs and priorities shift. Successful real estate businesses have structured themselves logically and strategically rather than defaulting to popular opinion or simple rules of thumb. Careful evaluation of options and impacts leads to the choice best fulfilling goals at minimum cost and maximum benefit. The structure that supports progress and minimizes roadblocks is the right one for the journey ahead.

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