Florida’s “Homestead” Law
Florida’s “Homestead” law provides protection for Florida homeowners that most states do not offer. When property is “homesteaded,” it is virtually untouchable to creditors.
Article X, section 4 of Florida’s Constitution lays out the criteria for Homestead protection. This protection prevents citizens from forced sale of their homes under process of any court. The only entities that can pierce the Homestead protection of a property are 1) the government for failure to pay taxes, 2) mortgagors due to failure to make mortgage payments, and 3) contractors who have done work on the subject home, termed a “mechanic’s lien.”
Just owning property in Florida is not enough to qualify for this protection. You must establish the property as your “domicile,” meaning your main residence. To qualify property for Homestead, a sworn statement must be filed with the circuit court of the county the person resides within, showing that the person lives within that county and that the person’s intent is to maintain his or her permanent home there.
Homestead protection is different for land inside and outside a municipality. For rural land outside of a municipality, a landowner is provided protection for 160 contiguous acres of land. For land within a municipality, a landowner can only receive Homestead protection for one-half acre of contiguous land to use as a residence for the owner or the owner’s family.
Another advantage to filing for Homestead is that Florida citizens receive a $25,000.00 tax credit for qualifying property. This is a good enough reason to file your property as Homestead with the county if you have not done so already.
To protect yourself and your family from judgments or debt, it is clearly in your best interests to make sure that the proper paperwork is filed with the county. If an owner of property passes away, the Homestead protection passes down to their spouse and/or children. If your property qualifies and you have not filed for this essential status, immediately contact the Broward County Property Appraiser’s main office located at the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S. Andrews Avenue, Room 111-F in Fort Lauderdale. The phone number is 954-357-6830.
The Northwest Broward office is in Coral Springs, located at 9881 W. Sample Road and the is phone number is 954-341-3990. For further information, the Broward County Property Appaiser’s website address is www.bcpa.net.
If you have any questions regarding Homestead or have a topic you would like to see discussed in my next column, please feel free to contact me at the email address listed below.