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Choosing the Right Entity for Your Vacation Rental: A Legal Guide for Hosts


Choosing the Right Entity for Your Vacation Rental: A Legal Guide for Hosts

by Nathan Russell, Owner & Managing Attorney

As the popularity of Airbnb and VRBO continues to soar, more and more people are capitalizing on the opportunity to earn extra income by listing their properties for rent. However, one crucial consideration that often gets overlooked is the choice of entity for your vacation rental business. Selecting the right legal structure is essential for protecting your personal assets, managing taxes efficiently, and ensuring long-term success. In this article, we will guide you through the process of choosing the ideal entity for your Airbnb venture.

Sole Proprietorship:

The simplest form of business entity is the sole proprietorship. It is a default structure where you conduct business as an individual without any legal distinction between your personal and business assets. While this may be the easiest option, it also exposes your personal assets to potential liability risks. If a guest were to file a lawsuit or your property incurs damages, your personal savings and possessions could be at stake.

Limited Liability Company (LLC):

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a popular choice among hosts. An LLC provides a clear separation between your personal and business assets, shielding your personal finances in case of any legal issues or debts. This structure offers flexibility in terms of taxation, allowing you to choose between pass-through taxation (similar to a sole proprietorship) or electing to be taxed as a corporation. Furthermore, an LLC offers a professional image and can enhance your credibility in the eyes of potential guests.


A corporation is a separate legal entity that offers the highest level of protection for personal assets. It shields your personal finances from business liabilities, making it an attractive option for hosts with multiple properties or those seeking substantial growth. A corporation has a complex structure with shareholders, directors, and officers, and requires more administrative tasks and compliance obligations. Additionally, corporations may be subject to double taxation at the corporate and individual levels, so it’s important to consider the tax implications before choosing this entity.


If you plan to co-host an property with a partner, a partnership structure might be worth considering. A partnership allows multiple individuals to pool resources, share responsibilities, and split profits and losses according to the agreed-upon terms. There are two types of partnerships: general partnerships and limited partnerships. General partners share equal responsibility and liability, while limited partners have limited liability but reduced control over business decisions.

Special Caveat:  All of these entities, other than sole proprietorship, do NOT allow for long-term, fixed rate financing.  Entities such as LLCs and Corporations are not allowed to have their mortgages sold on the secondary-market, which allow for low, long-term rates.

Choosing the most suitable entity for your vacation rental business is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Each entity type has its own advantages and considerations, including liability protection, tax implications, administrative requirements, and personal asset protection. Consult with a qualified attorney or tax advisor who specializes in small business matters to determine the best entity structure for your specific circumstances and goals. By selecting the appropriate entity, you can safeguard your personal assets, optimize your tax strategy, and set your hosting venture on the path to long-term success.  Russell Law Offices, SC has a team of real estate and business attorneys across southern Wisconsin who can help guide you through the entity selection and implementation process.  Reach out today for a consultation in an office near you!


Nathan Russell

Managing Attorney and Owner

All Locations

About Nathan Russell is the founder and owner of Russell Law Offices, SC.  Born and raised on his family’s fifth generation dairy and crop farm in Shullsburg, he returned to Southwest Wisconsin to practice law in 2009.    Nathan earned a degree in Agricultural Economics and his Juris Doctorate from UW-Madison.  Prior to opening Russell […]

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