Differentiating Florida’s Homestead Protections and Exemptions

Florida law provides excellent benefits to Florida residents concerning their primary residence, or “homestead” property. Three of the primary benefits are afforded by the Florida Constitution:

  1. Protection of the homestead property from most creditors
  2. Protection from one spouse’s conveyance of the homestead even if the other spouse is not on title
  3. A cap on yearly increases to the assessed value of the homestead property. In addition, Florida law allows for up to $50,000.00 to be deducted from the county’s assessed value of the homestead property, which reduces the amount of real estate taxes assessed to the homeowner.

Creditor Protection

Homestead protection against creditors operates by exempting the homestead property from attachment of civil judgments and judicially forced sale. For example, suppose a creditor obtains a judgment against a Florida resident. In that case, the creditor cannot attach the judgment lien to or force the sale of homestead property to satisfy the judgment. To receive this benefit, the homeowner must intend for the property to be a primary residence, reside in the home, and hold legal title to, or a beneficial interest in, the property. However, the exemption does not apply to all creditors. For example, mortgages or construction liens related to work performed on the homestead property are not exempt. It should also be noted that in certain situations, sale proceeds from the homestead property may also be protected.

Protection from Conveyance

A spouse not on title to homestead property is protected from the other spouse conveying or transferring an interest in the property without the non-titled spouse signing the deed or mortgage. Said another way, for an interest in homestead property to be conveyed or transferred, both spouses must sign the deed or mortgage, even if only one spouse is on the title. While Florida law allows a non-titled spouse to waive homestead rights via signing a homestead waiver, the homestead waiver is insufficient for title insurance purposes. Therefore, it cannot be relied on at closing.

Real Estate Tax Benefits

The assessed value of Florida real property is determined by the county property appraiser in the county where the property is located. The assessed value is used to calculate the annual real estate taxes assessed against the property. Utilizing the exemption to reduce the assessed value by up to $50,000.00 and the Constitutional benefit of placing a cap on yearly increases in the assessed value allows Florida residents to keep real estate taxes on homestead property down even after a significant increase in market value. Unlike the automatic creditor protection benefit, homestead property owners must apply with the county property appraiser’s office to obtain tax exemptions. The owners must own the property on January 1 of the year they apply and submit their application by March 1. Once the homestead is established with the county appraiser’s office, no future applications are needed. The above protections and exemptions are subject to certain requirements and limitations. For more information on Florida homestead, contact your trusted real estate attorney.


T.R. Smith, Esq., trsmith@berlinpatten.com

T.R. Smith is an experienced attorney who has been practicing law since his admission to the Florida Bar in 2013. He focuses primarily on real estate transactions but has experience in civil litigation, probate, estate planning, and business law.

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