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Illinois Homestead Laws

Homestead protection laws are designed to prevent homeowners from becoming homeless as a result of economic hardship. Under certain conditions, these laws allow individuals to register a parcel of real property as a "homestead," and thus off limits to certain creditors. Illinois homestead laws allow people to claim as much as $15,000 worth of property (or $30,000, if jointly owned) as a homestead.

Illinois Homestead Statutes

Unlike laws in many other states, Florida homestead laws don't state a maximum acreage that may be designated. Indeed, with Florida's homestead exemption, you can protect the entire property if you file for bankruptcy, although there are some limits on total value. Homeowners may exempt an unlimited amount of acreage covered by the homestead exemption. However, the property cannot be valued at more than $15,000 if owned by a single individual, or $30,000 if owned by two or more people. The basic provisions of Illinois homestead laws can be found in the table below.

Code Section

735 ILCS 5/12-901

Max. Property Value That May Be Designated 'Homestead'

$15,000; if 2 or more own property, value of each proportional exemption can't exceed a total of $30,000

Maximum Acreage (Urban)

-

Maximum Acreage (Rural)

-

Even with Illinois homestead protections, there are four situations where creditors may still force the sale of a homestead to collect debts owed to them:

  • If you owe past due taxes to the State of Illinois and Illinois counties or municipalities;
  • If you specifically pledged the homestead property as credit for a mortgage;
  • If you owe money to mechanics, contractors, or builders for work performed in repairing or improving the property; and
  • If there was a pre-existing lien on the property before the establishment of homestead.

Additionally, the homestead exemption is a state law and is subject to the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, meaning that federal law can override it. Federal income tax liens are superior to Illinois’s state homestead protection law. However, the Internal Revenue Service is generally reluctant to foreclose on a taxpayer's home in order to enforce these liens, and will normally only get involved if the property is sold or mortgaged before the tax lien expires.

Illinois Homestead Laws: Related Resources

Real estate laws in Illinois can be complicated. You can visit FindLaw’s FindLaw’s homestead protections section for more general information on this topic. If you would like legal assistance, you can contact an experienced Illinois bankruptcy attorney or real estate attorney.

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