Are You Eligible For The Florida Homestead Exemption?

The Florida Constitution (F.C.) (Article 10, Sec. 4) protects homestead property from a levy of creditors of the owner. The F.C. provides that homestead property should be liberally construed in favor of the homesteader against the creditor. The person claiming the homestead exemption must be a Florida resident who establishes that he or she made, or intends to make, the real property his or her permanent residence.

A permanent residence is an address listed on your driver's license, the place from which you register your cars, or file your income tax return or vote. If this property is not your permanent residence, or you are not a resident of Florida, you must notify the Property Appraiser. It is also important to note that only natural persons may claim homestead (not corporations or other like entities). If you are receiving a residency based exemption or benefit in another county, state or country; you are not eligible for exemption.

Homestead must be established before the levy of the judgment creditor. However, the homestead is subject to forced sales for property taxes, mortgages on the property, and mechanics liens arising from improvements of the property. Homestead inures to the benefit of the surviving spouse and minor children. Homestead consists of a ½ acre of contiguous land including a residence within a municipality. Outside of a municipality, one may claim up to 160 contiguous acres. Homestead also protects personal property to the value of one thousand dollars.

If the homestead is sold, the proceeds are considered to retain homestead exemption provided the owner has good faith intent to reinvest the proceeds in another homestead within a reasonable time. In other words, if you moved to a new home, the homestead exemption does not transfer automatically. To receive a new or additional exemption, you must make the application before March 1, of this year. If you have moved from another home within the state of Florida and you had homestead on your previous property, you may be eligible to bring your homestead savings with you.

To be eligible you must apply for and receive a homestead exemption on your new property within two years of leaving your previous homesteaded property and submit a (DR-501T) Homestead Assessment Difference form to the Property Appraiser's Office. However, it is important to note that if the homestead is abandoned, the protection may be forfeited.