Florida has some of the best homestead protections in the nation. Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution exempts homestead property from levy and execution by judgment creditors. Simply put, your homestead property is your principal place of residence and most creditors cannot foreclose on your homestead.
In order to qualify for homestead protection, you must be a Florida resident, the home must be your principal residence, and it must be owned by a natural person. Although property owned by your revocable trust can still qualify as homestead property, a residence, even if it is your principal residence, owned by a corporation, limited liability company, or partnership will not be protected. Also, property bought for a future residence or investment property does not count and will not be protected.
The Florida Constitution defines homestead as one’s principal place of residence up to one-half acre within a municipality and up to 160 contiguous acres in any county in Florida. The Florida courts have defined principal place of residence to include manufactured homes, condominiums, and mobile homes.
Your homestead is established the day you move in. There is no paperwork to fill out (however, you should make sure you fill out the county paperwork to receive your homestead exemption discount off your property taxes, but that is another subject).
Beware of Co-Ownership
It is important that all parties who are on the title live in the residence. Co-ownership can jeopardize the homestead exemption if the co-owner does not reside on the property, and the creditor of that co-owner can levy on their portion of the property. For example: A husband and wife add their daughter, who lives elsewhere, to the title of their property. The daughter is not afforded homestead protection and her creditors can levy her portion of the property
Exceptions: Creditors Who Can Reach Homestead Property
The Florida Constitution does not protect homestead property from
- tax liens,
- mechanic’s liens associated with repairs or improvements to the property, or
- voluntary liens such as mortgages.
Additionally, if a civil judgement is recorded before you occupy the property, the property is not protected from the pre-recorded judgment, and if you file bankruptcy, your homestead may not be protected to its full amount.
For more questions concerning your homestead protection, contact an attorney at Ourednik Law Offices.