Creating a Rental Property LLC in Texas

Branding your Texas rental property with an LLC lassos a herd of legal protections and financial benefits, corralling your investment toward prosperity in the Lone Star State’s expansive real estate frontier.

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Last Updated: May 24, 2024

A rental property LLC can be a fantastic way to protect your real estate investments in the Lone Star State, setting yourself up for a safe but lucrative business venture. But what exactly is a limited liability company (LLC), and why is creating one so advantageous? And how do you create one? 

In this guide, we’ll walk through the how and why of creating a rental property LLC in Texas so you can enjoy the structure’s benefits to the fullest, step by step. We’ll also discuss tax benefits, aftercare steps, and even alternatives if an LLC isn’t your favorite option. Let’s get started.  

Do you need a limited liability company for your rental property in Texas?

Deciding whether to form an LLC for your rental property in Texas hinges on several key considerations that cater to both your immediate needs and long-term business objectives. An LLC stands out primarily for its ability to shield personal assets from business-related lawsuits, making it a prudent choice for entrepreneurs who prioritize liability protection. This legal structure is especially beneficial for owners with multiple properties, as it compartmentalizes risks, ensuring that the liabilities of one property don’t spill over to others or to the owner’s personal assets. If you held each property in your name, you’d run the risk of debts and liabilities from Property A affecting your ability to renovate or Property B, or purchase Property C. Worse, your rental liabilities could even compromise your personal savings and other assets.

A rental property owner eyeing expansion or already juggling several rental units will find the LLC structure particularly advantageous. It not only offers a protective veil but also presents a professional image to potential tenants and partners. On the flip side, for individuals with a single rental property or those less concerned about legal liability, the cost and formalities of establishing and maintaining an LLC may outweigh its benefits.

Ultimately, the decision to form an LLC for your rental property in Texas should align with your risk tolerance, business scale, and future plans. Whether you’re safeguarding extensive assets or planning for growth, an LLC can serve as a strategic tool to meet your business needs while providing peace of mind.

What to know before creating an LLC for a rental property in Texas

Before diving into the formation of an LLC for your rental property in Texas, it’s crucial to navigate through the state’s specific considerations and regulations that could impact your business. One of the primary factors to keep in mind is the Texas Franchise Tax, a requirement for LLCs that kicks in after formation. This tax is based on your LLC’s earnings, meaning that understanding its calculation and implications is essential for effective financial planning.

Texas also prides itself on a business-friendly environment, offering a streamlined process for LLC formation. However, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the filing requirements, annual reporting, and fees associated with maintaining an LLC in the state. Additionally, Texas does not require an LLC to have an operating agreement for real estate investing, but drafting one is highly recommended.

This document outlines the ownership and operating procedures of your LLC. It’s helpful even if you’re the only owner of your rental property LLC, as it can detail how the LLC will transfer ownership if anything happens to you down the road. 

Another consideration is the property-specific regulations and local zoning laws that may affect your rental business. Depending on the location of your property, there might be additional permits or licenses required.

How to Start Your Rental Property LLC in Texas — 9 Important Steps to Follow

Ready to get started? Follow these nine steps to successfully set up your Texas rental property LLC. 

Step 1: Choose a name for your LLC

Selecting a unique and compliant name for your LLC is a critical first step in establishing your rental property business in Texas. The name must not only resonate with your brand identity but also adhere to Texas state regulations, including the avoidance of terms that could confuse your LLC with a government agency. 

It’s also imperative to conduct a thorough search through the Texas Secretary of State’s website to ensure your desired name is not already in use. This not only prevents legal complications but also helps in establishing a distinct presence in the market. A trademark search with the United States Patent and Trademark Office is also essential, as is a search for state trademarks. 

Step 2: Designate a registered agent

A registered agent acts as your LLC’s official point of contact for legal documents and service of process (notice of a lawsuit against you). In Texas, you can appoint an individual or a service like our registered agent service. The registered agent’s role is crucial for ensuring that your business stays in good legal standing by reliably receiving and forwarding legal documents to you.

Step 3: File your Certificate of Formation

To officially form your LLC in Texas, you must file a Certificate of Formation with the Texas Secretary of State. This document outlines key information about your business, including the name and address of the LLC, the registered agent’s details, and the management structure of the LLC. Filing can be completed online or by mail, and it marks the legal beginning of your business entity in the state.

Step 4: Create an operating agreement

Although Texas does not require LLCs to have an operating agreement, having one is invaluable. This internal document specifies the ownership percentages, distribution of profits and losses, rules for meetings, and procedures for making major business decisions. An operating agreement is fundamental for preventing misunderstandings among members and provides a clear framework for the operation of the LLC, so it’s absolutely essential if your rental property is owned by you and others.

Even if you’re the only owner of your rental property LLC, an operating agreement can be a helpful way to set up the future of your property. The agreement can dictate how the property can be sold or even undergo extensive renovations. 

Step 5: Obtain an employer identification number (EIN)

An EIN, issued by the IRS, is essential for your LLC as it’s used for tax filing and reporting purposes. Obtaining an EIN is a straightforward process that can be completed online through the IRS website at no cost. This number is necessary for hiring employees, opening a business bank account, and handling other financial activities under the LLC.

Step 6: File a BOI report with FinCEN

Starting in 2024, new regulations require LLCs to file a beneficial ownership information (BOI) report with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). This step is part of a broader effort to enhance transparency around the ownership structures of U.S. businesses. The report should include details about the individuals who own, control, and benefit from the LLC, aiming to prevent financial fraud and money laundering. It’s free to file.

Step 7: Register with the Texas Comptroller for state taxes

Your LLC may need to register with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts to manage state tax obligations, including the Texas Franchise Tax. The registration process can be completed online through the Comptroller’s website, where you can also find resources for understanding your tax responsibilities as a business operating in Texas.

Step 8: Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements

Beyond state taxes, your LLC might be subject to local taxes and regulatory requirements, depending on the nature and location of your rental property. This can include obtaining permits and licenses necessary for operating your rental business legally. It’s important to research local ordinances and state laws that apply to your LLC to ensure full compliance.

Step 9: Open a business bank account

Opening a separate bank account for your LLC is crucial for maintaining clear financial boundaries between personal and business finances. This step not only simplifies tax filing and accounting but also reinforces the legal distinction between the owner and the business entity, which is vital for preserving the liability protection that an LLC provides. When opening an account, be prepared to provide your EIN and a copy of the Certificate of Formation. 

After Forming a Rental Property LLC in Texas

Once you’ve completed those nine steps, there are still some things you’ll need to do to help keep your LLC operating smoothly for years to come. 

Transferring Existing Property to the LLC

If you bought your rental property before forming your LLC, you’ll need to formally transfer the property to the company so you can enjoy the benefits of asset protection. Here’s how. 

Begin by preparing and filing a deed to transfer the title of the property from your personal name to that of the LLC. Get a new deed drafted, such as a warranty or quitclaim deed, and get it recorded with your local county recorder. It’s vital to notify your mortgage lender of this transfer, as changing the property’s ownership could potentially affect the terms of your mortgage.

Following the property transfer, you must update the property insurance policy to reflect the LLC as the new owner, ensuring that the coverage meets the requirements for a rental business. Additionally, revise any existing lease agreements to list the LLC as the landlord, providing clarity and legal consistency for your tenants. 

Given the potential tax implications of transferring property to an LLC, such as changes in property taxes or capital gains taxes, consulting with a tax professional is a wise step. They can offer tailored advice to navigate the complexities of your specific situation, helping to optimize your tax position and avoid unforeseen liabilities.

Purchasing New Property Directly Through the LLC

When purchasing new property directly through your LLC, it’s crucial to approach financing with the entity’s credentials. Securing financing as an LLC may differ from personal financing, as lenders will assess the business’s creditworthiness and financial history. It’s essential to prepare your LLC’s financial documents, including bank statements and tax returns, to present a strong case to potential lenders. Remember, some lenders may require personal guarantees from the LLC members, especially if the business is relatively new or lacks extensive credit history.

Upon finalizing the purchase, ensure that the property title is in the name of the LLC from the outset. This step is fundamental for maintaining the legal separation between personal assets and business operations, reinforcing liability protection. Following the acquisition, obtaining property insurance in the name of the LLC is equally important. 

This not only safeguards your investment against potential damages and liabilities but also aligns with legal and lender requirements. Properly insuring the property under the LLC ensures that any claims or legal matters are directed toward the business entity, protecting individual members’ personal assets.

Cost of Creating an LLC for a Rental Property

Creating and maintaining an LLC for a rental property in Texas involves various costs, which are crucial for entrepreneurs to consider in their budgeting process. Here’s a quick overview of the typical expenses:

  • Certificate of Formation: $300
  • Registered Agent Fee: Varies between $100 and $300 per year
  • Annual Franchise Tax: 0.375% rate for most retail and wholesale, but only for LLCs that exceed the $2.47 million tax due threshold
  • Business Licenses and Permits: Vary depending on location and zoning regulations
  • Property Transfer Fees: Varies by county, but may apply for deed preparation, recording, and real estate transfer taxes

Benefits of Creating LLCs for Rental Properties in Texas

Forming an LLC for a rental property in Texas brings tailored advantages for real estate entrepreneurs:

  • Personal Liability Protection: Shields your personal assets, like your home, from business debts or legal claims against the property.
  • Pass-Through Taxation: Avoids corporate double taxation, allowing business profits to be taxed once at the individual owner’s rate.
  • Asset Separation: Keeps personal and business finances distinct, streamlining accounting and boosting credibility with banks and tenants.
  • Operational Flexibility: Offers a less formal management structure than corporations, ideal for managing rental properties with fewer administrative hurdles.

These benefits position LLCs as a preferred structure for real estate ventures, focusing on asset protection, tax efficiency, and operational ease.

Drawbacks of an LLC for Your Property Rental 

While forming an LLC for a rental property offers significant advantages, it’s important to consider potential drawbacks:

  • Increased Complexity: Managing an LLC can introduce more administrative tasks, such as separate tax filings and compliance with state regulations, which may complicate the business operation.
  • Initial and Ongoing Costs: The process involves initial setup fees, annual state fees, and possibly higher ongoing costs compared to sole proprietorships, impacting your budget.
  • Financing Challenges: Securing financing through an LLC might be more challenging as lenders could require personal guarantees or offer less favorable terms compared to personal loans.

These considerations underscore the importance of evaluating whether the benefits of an LLC align with your real estate business goals and financial capacity.

Tax Benefits

Owning a rental property through an LLC in Texas can offer several tax advantages, enhancing the profitability and efficiency of your real estate investments. Understanding these benefits helps in strategic planning and maximizing your returns.

How a Rental Property LLC Is Taxed in Texas

In Texas, LLCs enjoy a favorable tax treatment that benefits rental property owners. Primarily, LLCs are subject to pass-through taxation, meaning the company’s income is passed through to individual members and reported on their personal tax returns. This setup avoids the double taxation common with corporations. Texas does not impose a personal income tax, which simplifies tax planning for LLC owners. However, rental properties held by LLCs may still be subject to the Texas Franchise Tax, depending on their revenue levels.

Schedule E or Schedule C

The nature of your rental activity influences whether you report rental income on Schedule E or Schedule C. Schedule E is used for reporting income and expenses from rental properties not considered a trade or business, which is the case for most passive rental activities.

Meanwhile, Schedule C applies if your rental activity qualifies as a business, usually when you provide substantial services to tenants or have multiple properties. This distinction affects the tax implications, including eligibility for certain deductions and self-employment taxes. If you’re not sure which applies to your business, we highly recommend consulting with a Texas tax professional. 

Tax Deductions to Know About

LLCs that own rental properties can take advantage of numerous tax deductions to reduce their taxable income:

  • Mortgage Interest: Interest on loans used to purchase or improve rental property.
  • Depreciation: The cost of the property and improvements are depreciated over their useful lives.
  • Repairs and Maintenance: Immediate deductions for property repairs and routine maintenance.
  • Property Taxes and Insurance: State and local property taxes, as well as insurance premiums, are deductible.
  • Utilities: Costs for utilities paid by the LLC, if not reimbursed by tenants.
  • Professional Fees: Legal and accounting fees directly related to rental activity.
  • Travel Expenses: Expenses related to traveling for rental property maintenance or management, if applicable.
  • Advertising: Costs associated with advertising your rental property.

As a rental property owner, you can significantly lower your tax liability and maintain a tax-efficient structure under the LLC structure. For more detailed information on these tax benefits and how to apply them, consulting a tax professional or exploring more specific guides is advisable.

Types of Properties That Are Approved to Be an LLC 

Here are just a few of the different types of properties that you can structure as a real estate property LLC in Texas: 

  • Single-Family Homes
  • Multi-Family Properties
  • Commercial Properties
  • Mixed-Use Properties
  • Vacation Rentals
  • Industrial Properties
  • Mobile Home Parks
  • Land Lease Properties
  • Student Housing
  • Senior Living Facilities

Other Types of Business Formations for Rental Property Businesses

Choosing the right business structure for your rental property business involves balancing simplicity, liability protection, and tax implications. Here’s a quick comparison:

  • Sole Proprietorship vs. LLC: Sole proprietorships are easy and cost-effective but offer no personal liability protection, unlike LLCs which provide asset separation and pass-through taxation but at higher initial and ongoing costs.
  • Trust vs. LLC: Trusts facilitate estate planning and asset transfer without probate but lack the business benefits and liability protection of LLCs, which are better suited for active business management and operational flexibility.
  • Corporation vs. LLC: Corporations offer strong liability protection and funding options but can lead to double taxation, while LLCs provide a simpler, tax-efficient structure ideal for small- to medium-sized operations.

Each structure has its advantages depending on your priorities, such as ease of management, asset protection, and tax strategy.

We can help you form your rental property LLC today 

Starting an LLC doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor with ZenBusiness at your back. Our specialty is making starting a business as stress-free as possible. Whether you need help starting your LLC, getting licenses and permits, or anything in between, we can handle the paperwork so you can focus on what you love: rental property management. 

Additional Resources

Want some extra help while getting started? Check out these resources.

  • The Office of Small Business Assistance: Backed by the governor’s office, the Office of Small Business Assistance provides assistance with permits and licenses, resources, advocacy, and more.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): The IRS website is an essential resource for tax guidance, deduction options, and updates for the tax code. 
  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA):  The Small Business Administration offers a wealth of resources for small business owners, from grant opportunities to training and more. 
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): While not directly related to forming an LLC, the HUD website offers valuable information for rental property owners, including fair housing laws, housing programs, and resources for landlords.

Texas Rental Property LLC FAQs

  • There are two primary benefits to using an LLC structure for a rental property: pass-through taxation and personal asset protection in case something goes wrong.

  • As long as you follow a few rules under Texas law, you have a lot of freedom in naming your LLC. Your LLC name has to be distinguishable from taken names, can’t suggest that your business is engaging in unauthorized activities, and must include “limited liability company,” “limited company,” or an approved abbreviation. 

    It’s not uncommon for rental businesses to use a name series like “Smith Properties” plus a name related to the property’s location.

  • No, you don’t need to register your new Texas rental property LLC as a foreign LLC in your home state. However, if you’re expanding an existing LLC from your home state into Texas, you will need to register as a foreign LLC within Texas. This process typically entails filing a Limited Liability Company Application for Registration and paying the $750 filing fee. Registration will help ensure that your LLC is recognized as a compliant legal entity in both states.

  • No, having a mortgage on a rental property does not affect the eligibility to form an LLC. Property owners commonly transfer mortgaged properties into LLCs for liability protection and business organization. However, it’s important to notify the lender and understand the terms of your mortgage, as some agreements contain a “due on sale” clause that could be triggered by such a transfer.

  • Yes, you can live in your rental property under an LLC in Texas. However, using the property as both your primary residence and a rental can have hefty implications for financing, taxes, and liability protection. It’s important to clearly define the rental aspects of the property in the operating agreement and maintain accurate records for business and personal use.

  • In Texas, mobile properties can be owned by an LLC just like traditional real estate. However, the process for transferring a mobile property into an LLC may involve additional steps, such as changing the title through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. The underlying land, if owned, can also be included in the LLC for comprehensive asset protection.

  • Creating an LLC for your rental property can offer significant benefits, including liability protection, potential tax advantages, and enhanced business credibility. However, it’s important to weigh these benefits against the costs and administrative requirements of maintaining an LLC. Your decision should align with your business goals, financial situation, and risk tolerance.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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