What is a FL Homestead Exemption and why should I care?

What is a Florida Homestead and can I claim it?

Florida allows certain individuals to claim a homestead exemption for their primary residences. This homestead exemption protects the property against a judgment from most creditors.

Should I claim a Homestead exemption?

The short answer is yes. The exemption protects your property. Before you claim the exemption, you must be eligible.
This exemption only applies to “natural persons” who are Florida Residents. Thus, if you are a resident of a different state or country, you are not able to claim the exemption. Additionally, if a corporation owns the home, then you cannot claim the exemption.
Under a homestead exempted property, the entire value of the home has protection. Thus, if an individual files for bankruptcy, the creditors "touch" your homestead property.

How do I qualify for a Florida Homestead? 

In Florida, personal and real property qualify for the homestead exemption. The property must be the individual's primary house. Consequently, you must use the property as your main home and live there on a day-to-day basis.
For properties located within the city limits, the property must be within ½ acre. For property outside city limits, the property must be within 160 acres to be eligible.
Investment homes, second homes, vacation homes, or third homes are not eligible. The property must be the primary property that the individual(s) live daily.

Is the entire value of my property protected?

Once a property is a homestead exempted, then the property is "judgment-free." The entire value including all improvements and buildings on the land has protection.
There are a few minor exceptions to this exemption to the homestead exemption. Creditors of unpaid taxes, improvements, & mortgages may force the sale of your property. As a result, these creditors can collect the amount owed to them from the money of the sale.
For individuals who own a property with another person, potential problems can arise. For cases where one of the owners of the property does not live in the home, this person cannot claim the exemption. The interest of the person not living in the house is not protected under the FL Homestead Exemption.
The other co-owners interest can be eligible for protection if they live on the property. Thus, the protection in this case would only the extent to the proportion of their ownership.

How long do I need to own the property?

Florida permits owners of any home, condominium, or mobile home to seek homestead exemption.
Also, you cannot claim the property as a homestead if you have purchased and owned the property for under 1,215 days before a bankruptcy filing.

Is the Florida Homestead Tax Exemption the same?

Pay attention to the differences between the Florida Homestead Exemption and the Florida Homestead Tax Exemption. These are two different concepts.
While the tax appraiser offers a homestead tax exemption if an individual meets certain requirements, this is different from the Florida homestead exemption. Therefore, make sure you do not get the two confused.

Consult an experienced Real Estate Law Firm

If you have any questions about the Florida Homestead Law, call us for a Free Consultation. Lulich Attorneys and Consultants have offices serving Vero Beach and Sebastian for the past 30 years. Call us today at (772) 589-5500.