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Florida Homestead Laws

Florida has one of the most generous homestead exemptions found in any state. Laws providing homestead protection help prevent people from becoming homeless in the event of a disclosure or change in economic stature. Specifically, these laws allow individuals to register a limited portion of their property as "homestead" and generally off-limits to creditors.

Homestead Laws in Florida

Unlike laws in many other states, Florida homestead laws don't state a maximum value that may be designated. Indeed, with Florida's homestead exemption, you can protect the entire value of your home if you file for bankruptcy, although there are some limits on total acreage. Homeowners may exempt an unlimited amount of value in their home or other property covered by the homestead exemption. However, the property cannot be larger than half an acre in a municipality or 160 acres elsewhere. You can get homestead filing forms and more informational material from the Florida Department of Revenue.

Florida Homestead Statutes

Code Section

§196.031; Const. Art. X, §4

Max. Property Value That May Be Designated 'Homestead'

Maximum value, with acreage limits

Maximum Acreage (Urban)

1/2 acre

Maximum Acreage (Rural)

160 acres

Even under Florida homestead protections, there are four types of creditors who can still force the sale of a homestead to collect debts owed to them:

  • The State of Florida and Florida counties or municipalities, in order to collect past due property taxes;
  • Creditors to whom the homestead property was specifically pledged as credit for a mortgage;
  • Mechanics, contractors, or builders who are owed money for work performed in repairing or improving the property; and
  • Any creditor with a pre-existing lien on the property before the establishment of homestead.

Additionally, because the homestead exemption is a state law subject to the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, federal law can override it. Federal income tax liens are superior to the homestead protection provided by the Florida state law. Generally, however, the Internal Revenue Service is reluctant to foreclose on a taxpayer's home to enforce these liens, and will normally only get involved if the property is sold or mortgaged before the tax lien expires.

Related Resources for Florida Homestead Laws

Florida real estate laws can be hard to understand, and you might find it helpful to consult with an experienced Florida real estate attorney or bankruptcy attorney in your area. You can also find more introductory information on this topic in FindLaw’s homestead protections section.

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