Definition of Residential Rental Property, Tax Benefits & Drawbacks

Residential Rental Property: What Is It?

Properties that are bought by an investor and leased to tenants under a lease or other rental arrangement are referred to as residential rental property. Residential property is land that has been set aside expressly for the purpose of housing persons or families; it can range from huge, multi-unit apartment buildings to stand-alone single-family homes.

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Commercial rental property can be compared to residential rental property, as the latter is leased to companies in areas specifically designated for profit-making.

The Operation of Residential Rental Property

Single-family homes, townhouses, duplexes, apartments, condominiums, and so on are examples of residential real estate. This type of rental real estate investment is distinguished from others by the phrase “residential rental property,” which also includes hotels and motels, where the renter does not dwell there permanently, and commercial properties, where the tenant is often a corporate organization rather than an individual or family.

An appealing investment opportunity is residential rental real estate. Many individuals have first-hand knowledge of both the residential real estate market as homeowners and the rental market as renters, in contrast to stocks, futures, and other financial assets. Compared to other investments, residential rental properties are less daunting because of this familiarity with the procedure and the capital. Residential rental properties can provide monthly cash flow, long-term appreciation, leverage through borrowed funds, and the previously noted tax advantages on the income the investment generates, in addition to the familiarity element.

There are tax benefits associated with owning a residential rental property that are not available to the holder of other, more indirect real estate assets, such as a real estate investment trust (REIT). Naturally, direct ownership of residential rental property entails the risks associated with unoccupied units and tenant conflicts, as well as the obligation to maintain the property yourself or hire a property management firm.

The Dangers of Rental Residential Property

Of course, residential rental property has its associated drawbacks. The most important is that investing in residential rental property is not particularly liquid. Although cash flow and appreciation are fantastic, it can be challenging to actually cut losses and exit a property if it ceases to provide one or both because of poor management or unfavorable market conditions. Finding a buyer for a struggling rental property is necessary if you want to sell it. The buyer must see value in the investment that you do not, or do not see.

Although hiring a property management business can assist, there are also significant problems associated with being a landlord, and that expense further reduces the investment’s profit margin. Lastly, there’s the danger posed by shifting tax laws. A portion of the investment’s appeal may be lost if residential rental property’s tax status changes.

Residential Rental Property Tax Treatment

According to the IRS, a property in the US is classified as residential real estate if it generates more than 80% of its income from housing units. The 27.5-year modified accelerated cost recovery system (MACRS) schedule is used for depreciation on residential rental property. Because income from residential real estate is considered passive income, there are regulations governing how losses are handled depending on the owner’s active involvement. An overview of the tax laws is given in IRS Publication 527 Residential Rental Property, which is updated whenever new regulations or requirements are implemented.