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Renting Florida Homestead Could Be Costly to Owner

James W. Martin

Times are tough for Florida homeowners. But renting out your home and living elsewhere might make it even tougher. This is because you might be abandoning your homestead protections when you do this.

Florida law grants Florida homeowners several protections with regard to their homesteads. First is the homestead exemption on the annual real estate taxes. Second is the Save Our Homes Cap on the value that is subject to the annual taxes. Third is the exemption from forced sale of the homes by general creditors.

All of these protections require that homes be the homesteads of the owners. Homestead can be complicated to determine, but it comes down to being the place where you intend to permanently reside; i.e., your domicile. Various facts show your intent. What address is on your driver license, where your bills are sent, what address is on your tax return, where you physically live, etc.

If you rent the home out to someone else and no longer live there yourself, you have created evidence of abandonment of homestead even if you still own the home. This gives the state a reason to take away the homestead tax exemption and the Save Our Homes Cap, resulting in substantially higher annual real estate taxes. It also gives general creditors a reason to claim the right to enforce judgments against the home since it is no longer protected as homestead.

So, before renting out Florida homestead, consider whether doing so will result in possible loss of the homestead exemption. (Of course, the same consideration applies to moving out of the Florida homestead without renting it.)

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