Is there a way to be anonymous, totally, when becoming a landlord?

56 Replies

Maybe I'm overly cautious or paranoid but that is a big concern. If it comes to evicting a tenant, or some other reason a tenant may have a grievance, I would feel much safer being some random Jane Doe. 

My first thoughts are buying property with an LLC and having a property manager. But it seems like there are probably a lot of other avenues I would need to cover.
 

Hi @Andrea Jones , I like the way you think! I have been a LL for a long time and none of my tenants know I own anything. It's great driving a beater and having tenants feel bad for you when you have to fix something for them on a weekend. I've even receive tips! What I did was establish a mgt co I use only for my own properties in the form of an S-corp (you shouldn't need an RE license to manage property you are vested in) and I hold title to my multi-families in an LLC. As president of my mgt co, I authorized myself to act as the Regional Mgr when dealing with tenants. That what my business card says. You can grow as big or stay as small as you like. I chose a random name for my mgt co people think they kinda mighta heard of. I enjoy remaining the anonymous 'over-worked' employee that can say, "they wanted to raise your rent $50/mo. I went to bat for ya and got it down to $25!" Why other LLs and management people put their name on everything is beyond me!

make sure llcs are attached to an office address. also have someone other than you listed as the resident agent.....then you're anonymous.....almost. truthfully if someone really wanted to find you they could.

When purchasing a property, can a business name be listed as an owner on the public records?

Can one 'rent' an office addy? That may be a crazy question, please forgive my ignorance if it is.

The first thing I would recommend, is to own the real estate in an LLC and not your personal name. For more protection and anonymity, you can place that LLC in a trust and make the LLC the beneficiary or just place the LLC in a Family Limited Partnership. This last step will help to shield you from lawsuits as well.

business can be listed as the owner...if it is the owner

business address I believe can be rented....virtual office? google it

@Andrea Jones  Depending on your location you can rent UPS mailbox for about $100-$150 a year.  It provides you with a street address and a mechanism for receiving packages, rent or keys from your tenants without the need for an office.

Originally posted by @Ursula B. :

@Andrea Jones Depending on your location you can rent UPS mailbox for about $100-$150 a year.  It provides you with a street address and a mechanism for receiving packages, rent or keys from your tenants without the need for an office.

 Would this also be legal to list on official documents?

Originally posted by @Andrea Jones :

Maybe I'm overly cautious or paranoid but that is a big concern. If it comes to evicting a tenant, or some other reason a tenant may have a grievance, I would feel much safer being some random Jane Doe. 

My first thoughts are buying property with an LLC and having a property manager. But it seems like there are probably a lot of other avenues I would need to cover.
 

Oh, absolutely, your best avenue is to get with some homeless person or someone who has absolutely nothing. Hire them, pay them a couple hundred buck. Title property in their name and have them execute a quit claim deeds back to you, which you don't file, but keep in your lock box. Then have them hire you to manage the property. If they have had enough wine, there should be no reason to go into details. You manage and keep the money except for the annual $200 you pay them as your straw man.

You'll never get sued, the bum will and he probably won't show up. Did I mention the fake liens you file against the property?

Well, you can play all kinds of games, or, you can provide great management and just never be negligent, then have tons of insurance and sleep well. Either way, you're pretty safe at safeguarding your 50 million dollar estate. :)

Medium logoscopiccroppedblue2Bill Gulley, General Real Estate Academy | https://generalrealestateacademy.com

@Andrea Jones I guess it would depend on what official documents you are referring to. I advertise it as my business address. For real estate commission purposes, they have my UPS address as my mailing address, but also have my home address as my principle place of business. When I incorporated my LLC, I used a registered agent with a different address, and marked that I did not have a principle place of business (I didn't at the time).

Only one of my tenants knows where I live - it was a special circumstance and I live 5 hours away.  Otherwise they only get my UPS mailbox address. 

Originally posted by @Bill Gulley :
Originally posted by @Andrea Jones:

Maybe I'm overly cautious or paranoid but that is a big concern. If it comes to evicting a tenant, or some other reason a tenant may have a grievance, I would feel much safer being some random Jane Doe. 

My first thoughts are buying property with an LLC and having a property manager. But it seems like there are probably a lot of other avenues I would need to cover.
 

Oh, absolutely, your best avenue is to get with some homeless person or someone who has absolutely nothing. Hire them, pay them a couple hundred buck. Title property in their name and have them execute a quit claim deeds back to you, which you don't file, but keep in your lock box. Then have them hire you to manage the property. If they have had enough wine, there should be no reason to go into details. You manage and keep the money except for the annual $200 you pay them as your straw man.

You'll never get sued, the bum will and he probably won't show up. Did I mention the fake liens you file against the property?

Well, you can play all kinds of games, or, you can provide great management and just never be negligent, then have tons of insurance and sleep well. Either way, you're pretty safe at safeguarding your 50 million dollar estate. :)

 I plan on doing everything as well as I can. But nuts can appear just as normal as the next person, and I would sleep better knowing I'm incognito ;) 

Originally posted by @Ursula B. :

@Andrea Jones I guess it would depend on what official documents you are referring to. I advertise it as my business address. For real estate commission purposes, they have my UPS address as my mailing address, but also have my home address as my principle place of business. When I incorporated my LLC, I used a registered agent with a different address, and marked that I did not have a principle place of business (I didn't at the time).

Only one of my tenants knows where I live - it was a special circumstance and I live 5 hours away.  Otherwise they only get my UPS mailbox address. 

 Great tips! I will check into that :)

@Andrea Jones   the Ohio Revised Code for LLCs is here, http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/1705

If you really don't want to manage and don't want people to know your membership, then have an attorney create the LLC and get a registered agent. This will keep most people from knowing who runs the LLC, but if your LLC (or your property manager) gets in hot water, the agent (or authorities) will be there to come and get you.

Similarly, I am beneficiary of a trust where literally no one knows who 'runs' the trust. But if something goes bad with the trust owned assets (beyond what a PM or their local legal support can handle), a subpoena and/or court/legal documents will find me. I know because I had it happen.

Are you buying cash or have the houses with a mortgage, if you havea mortgage be careful as you can void it if you put it in the LLC's name

Originally posted by @Chris Martin :

@Andrea Jones  the Ohio Revised Code for LLCs is here, http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/1705

If you really don't want to manage and don't want people to know your membership, then have an attorney create the LLC and get a registered agent. This will keep most people from knowing who runs the LLC, but if your LLC (or your property manager) gets in hot water, the agent (or authorities) will be there to come and get you.

Similarly, I am beneficiary of a trust where literally no one knows who 'runs' the trust. But if something goes bad with the trust owned assets (beyond what a PM or their local legal support can handle), a subpoena and/or court/legal documents will find me. I know because I had it happen.

 Great advice, thank you!

Originally posted by @Elizabeth Colegrove:

Are you buying cash or have the houses with a mortgage, if you havea mortgage be careful as you can void it if you put it in the LLC's name

 It would be cash...

@Andrea Jones  

Can we assume that "Andrea Jones" is not your real name?!  :)

@Andrea Jones  

 First you have to decide how active you are going to be in the property. If you are going to be active, then a lot of what @Steve Vaughan  says will work well. I really hope @Bill Gulley  was kidding.

  • If you are involved in the property, you can be named in a lawsuit. For example. a lawsuit happy, money grabber, slips on ice on the sidewalk. The hire a bloodsucking ambulance chasing attorney.  They will sue the person who shoveled the walk, the company that hired them, the property manager, and the registered property owner.

The more anonymous you want to be the more it will cost.

If I wanted to maximize my anonymity, I would take these steps. 

  1. 1. My attorney sets up the LLC, and is the registered agent.
  2. 2. My attorney signs all closing docs for the Property. Properties are titled in a Land Trust and the LLC is the Beneficiary. Use your business address, or the Registered Agent's address.
  3. 3. My attorney hires the Property Manager I want, and signs the management contract on behalf of the LLC. The attorney directs the Property Manager to follow my instructions for activities involving the property.
  4. 4. The Property Manager distributes funds directly to the LLC bank account.
  5. 5. Maintain really good insurance on the property.

Obviously you'll incur some Attorney fees, but it gets it done. Steps 1, 2, and 5 are probably sufficient, 3 and 4 are for the really paranoid. Unless they really are out to get you.

And if you lose, go find Bill's drunks, and buy his houses from them.

Medium dayton rei networkDarrin Carey, Dayton Real Estate Investing Network | [email protected] | (937) 458‑3303 | http://www.DaytonCapitalPartners.com

Originally posted by @Darrin Carey :

@Andrea Jones 

 First you have to decide how active you are going to be in the property. If you are going to be active, then a lot of what @Steve Vaughan  says will work well. I really hope @Bill Gulley  was kidding.

  • If you are involved in the property, you can be named in a lawsuit. For example. a lawsuit happy, money grabber, slips on ice on the sidewalk. The hire a bloodsucking ambulance chasing attorney.  They will sue the person who shoveled the walk, the company that hired them, the property manager, and the registered property owner.

The more anonymous you want to be the more it will cost.

If I wanted to maximize my anonymity, I would take these steps. 

  1. 1. My attorney sets up the LLC, and is the registered agent.
  2. 2. My attorney signs all closing docs for the Property. Properties are titled in a Land Trust and the LLC is the Beneficiary. Use your business address, or the Registered Agent's address.
  3. 3. My attorney hires the Property Manager I want, and signs the management contract on behalf of the LLC. The attorney directs the Property Manager to follow my instructions for activities involving the property.
  4. 4. The Property Manager distributes funds directly to the LLC bank account.
  5. 5. Maintain really good insurance on the property.

Obviously you'll incur some Attorney fees, but it gets it done. Steps 1, 2, and 5 are probably sufficient, 3 and 4 are for the really paranoid. Unless they really are out to get you.

And if you lose, go find Bill's drunks, and buy his houses from them.

 What kind of fees are we talking about? Ballpark of course. 

Now that you bring up icy sidewalks...how many property managers/LL actually shovel and salt them every day that it snows? We rented about 4 homes before buying a house. Not only did we cut the lawn (which I preferred) but never did a LL ever shovel or salt anything, and we lived near the snow belt. Thinking about the section 8 bible, maybe I should just take out the sidewalk while I'm reducing the front stoop and taking all the ceiling fans lol.

Originally posted by @Darrin Carey :

@Andrea Jones 

 First you have to decide how active you are going to be in the property. If you are going to be active, then a lot of what @Steve Vaughan  says will work well. I really hope @Bill Gulley  was kidding.

  • If you are involved in the property, you can be named in a lawsuit. For example. a lawsuit happy, money grabber, slips on ice on the sidewalk. The hire a bloodsucking ambulance chasing attorney.  They will sue the person who shoveled the walk, the company that hired them, the property manager, and the registered property owner.

The more anonymous you want to be the more it will cost.

If I wanted to maximize my anonymity, I would take these steps. 

  1. 1. My attorney sets up the LLC, and is the registered agent.
  2. 2. My attorney signs all closing docs for the Property. Properties are titled in a Land Trust and the LLC is the Beneficiary. Use your business address, or the Registered Agent's address.
  3. 3. My attorney hires the Property Manager I want, and signs the management contract on behalf of the LLC. The attorney directs the Property Manager to follow my instructions for activities involving the property.
  4. 4. The Property Manager distributes funds directly to the LLC bank account.
  5. 5. Maintain really good insurance on the property.

Obviously you'll incur some Attorney fees, but it gets it done. Steps 1, 2, and 5 are probably sufficient, 3 and 4 are for the really paranoid. Unless they really are out to get you.

And if you lose, go find Bill's drunks, and buy his houses from them.

 Forgot to add...I would hire one of my sons to mow and trim and also my oldest son would be the main one taking care of repairs. But the tenants would have no idea their mom is the owner. 

Darrin, is there no sense of sarcastic humor in OH? Yes, I was kidding.

There is absolutely no peril, no situation or situation dealing with crazies that is not under a well structured defensible shield that is or can't be addressed by good management and insurance, period! We have other laws to deal with crazies.

Those who aren't willing to peek out from under the covers probably isn't well suited for any business dealing with the public. Some risks must be assumed, that's why you make money, for risks assumed.

There is no structure, no scheme, no method, no ploy to hide and be the owner of real property, the judge will simply ask or demand disclosure and what ever you did will fall apart.

It also looks bad to the judge, why all the hiding tactics, especially if there isn't some valid reason apart from normal business owners, why, are they doing something they need to hide from? Are we dealing with some sneaky snake, what's the reason for any convoluted stuff? Do we have some crook, shady type, paranoid type, unreasonable or uniformed unreasonable type? Best thing is to always stick to conventional, generally accepted practices which are structured that way for various reasons.

Fear in business is simply from a lack of education.

All that is not a reflection on the OP, just to the general thinking of getting into business, not everyone is suited to accept reasonable risks.

We see these liability protection questions often, most don't have a pot to spit in and they are concerned they may lose their bedroom furniture and car......simply scared and uniformed as to reality. :) 

Medium logoscopiccroppedblue2Bill Gulley, General Real Estate Academy | https://generalrealestateacademy.com

Originally posted by @Bill Gulley :

Darrin, is there no sense of sarcastic humor in OH? Yes, I was kidding.

There is absolutely no peril, no situation or situation dealing with crazies that is not under a well structured defensible shield that is or can't be addressed by good management and insurance, period! We have other laws to deal with crazies.

Those who aren't willing to peek out from under the covers probably isn't well suited for any business dealing with the public. Some risks must be assumed, that's why you make money, for risks assumed.

There is no structure, no scheme, no method, no ploy to hide and be the owner of real property, the judge will simply ask or demand disclosure and what ever you did will fall apart.

It also looks bad to the judge, why all the hiding tactics, especially if there isn't some valid reason apart from normal business owners, why, are they doing something they need to hide from? Are we dealing with some sneaky snake, what's the reason for any convoluted stuff? Do we have some crook, shady type, paranoid type, unreasonable or uniformed unreasonable type? Best thing is to always stick to conventional, generally accepted practices which are structured that way for various reasons.

Fear in business is simply from a lack of education.

All that is not a reflection on the OP, just to the general thinking of getting into business, not everyone is suited to accept reasonable risks.

We see these liability protection questions often, most don't have a pot to spit in and they are concerned they may lose their bedroom furniture and car......simply scared and uniformed as to reality. :) 

 I agree with this.  I don't have tremendous fear of getting sued.  You can sue for anything in this damn country, but the question is, can you really win and what can you really get out of me.  I am very personal to my existing tenants.  In part it lets them see the human side and know that I'm just like them.  I am also VERY direct and clear with them.  They wouldn't want me walking into their place of business disrupting how they earn their living and I expect they will not do the same with me.  They understand there is a ZERO tolerance policy for any sort of sob story because regardless of how legit of an issue they could encounter that renders them unable to pay the rent, there will be no other choice but for me to handle it as a business transaction because their emergencies do not mean a crisis on my part.  So far so good, zero issues with my tenants.  As I acquire more property and grow, I'm sure I will change from this strategy somewhat.

Medium pineywoodsDavid DuCille, Pineywoods Realty | [email protected] | 813 812‑4712 | http://www.daveducille.com

I just want to throw my two cents in here as someone who has dealt with a landlord pursuing this type of strategy. Basically, the guy owned some buildings but did the typical routine that you see suggested here on BP - he tried to lead everyone to believe that he was just an employee of a business as opposed to the actual landlord.

The problem is, nobody that worked with him could keep the secret - brokers, workers, etc all made statements that he was in fact the owner, not just a property manager. So it became this ridiculous exercise where every time a tenant dealt with him, they had to play along, and if they asked him something he would say "Oh I'll have to check with the owners about that." But in reality it was not effective because everyone knew he was really just making the decisions, and if he ever ended up in court I doubt he would be protected in any special way since any tenant could simply state "the broker told me that Joe Smith is the OWNER not just the manager."

So if you are going to go this route, you probably want to make sure your team isn't spilling the beans every 5 minutes.

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