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New York Homestead Laws

New York Homestead Protection Laws at a Glance

Homestead protection laws protect homeowners and other small property owners from losing losing all of their home equity during the bankruptcy process. These laws are designed to prevent homeowners from losing their primary residence during difficult times. Specifically, homestead laws allow individuals to declare a portion of their property as "homestead" and therefore protected from a forced sale.

Under New York's homestead protection law, the amount property owners may declare exempt varies based on county location and range from $75,000 to $150,000. The exemption amount is doubled for married couples, which can be as much as $300,000 for a couple in Suffolk County, for example.

When you file for bankruptcy, the homestead exemption will automatically be figured into your case (so you don't have to file a separate homestead declaration). You may claim homestead exemption under New York or federal law, but not both. The state does not provide any additional homestead exemptions for property that is held as a tenancy in the entirety.

How Does Federal Bankruptcy Law Provide Homestead Protection?

New York provides a rather robust homestead exemption for homeowners, but you may claim federal protections instead. However, the exemption amount under federal bankruptcy law isn't nearly as much.

Under federal law, you may claim an exemption of $22,975 (as of 2013), which may be used for burial plots in addition to homes. This exemption may be doubled to $45,950 for married couples. Federal law requires that you live in the property for at least 40 months prior to the bankruptcy.

The table below highlights the basic provisions of New York's homestead protection laws. See Bankruptcy Exemptions: Chapter 7 for more information.

Code Section Civ. Prac. L. & R. §5206
Max. Property Value That May Be Designated 'Homestead'

$150,000 (Kings, Queens, New York, Bronx, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Westchester, Putnam counties

$125,000 (Dutchess, Albany, Columbia, Orange, Saratoga, Ulster counties)

$75,000 (all other counties)

Maximum Acreage (Urban) -
Maximum Acreage (Rural) -

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a New York bankruptcy attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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