Short-Term Rentals and Loss of the Homestead Exemption

The Florida Property Tax Exemption for Homesteaded Property provides valuable tax benefits to owners of real property in Florida.  Homestead exemption tax benefits include a reduction in the taxable value of a primary residence, as well as a cap on any increase in the taxable value of the residence.  Owners are frequently interested in renting their homesteaded property on a short-term basis to generate supplemental income.  Before an owner decides to rent property with a homestead exemption, beware that renting will likely result in a loss of the homestead exemption!

Under Florida Statute 196.061, “The rental of all or substantially all of a dwelling previously claimed to be a homestead for tax purposes shall constitute the abandonment of such dwelling as a homestead, and the abandonment continues until the dwelling is physically occupied by the owner. However, such abandonment of the homestead after January 1 of any year does not affect the homestead exemption for tax purposes for that particular year unless the property is rented for more than 30 days per calendar year for 2 consecutive years.”

In sum, if the owner of a homesteaded property rents all or substantially all of their property for more than 30 days per year for two consecutive years, the owner will lose their homestead exemption. If the owner gets caught renting a property with an improperly claimed homestead exemption, the penalties can be drastic, including a disapproval of the homestead exemption, along with a 50% penalty and 15% interest for any year or years the property was rented in the prior 10 years.

A word to the wise, homestead exemption audits are on the rise.  In Florida, short-term rental operators are typically required to pay a tourist tax for rentals of six months or less. Owners of homesteaded property that is being rented on a short-term basis should be aware that some local taxing authorities are carefully monitoring tourist tax receipts, and cross-referencing those tax receipts with the local property appraiser’s records. A property with a homestead exemption that generates substantial amounts of rental income is likely to trigger an audit by the property appraiser’s office. Some property appraiser officials are even scouring websites like www.Airbnb.com and www.vrbo.com for rental operations that are fraudulently claiming a homestead exemption.

Before renting out homesteaded property on a short-term basis, it is critically important that owners weigh the benefits of the homestead exemption with the benefits of renting the property. If you have questions regarding the loss of the homestead exemption in connection with the short-term rental of a property, contact a local, knowledgeable, real estate attorney.

Sincerely,

Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC
Article Authored by Ben DeMarsh  bdemarsh@berlinpatten.com

This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

www.berlinpatten.com 

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