A Guide to Florida Homestead Laws

The laws governing Florida homestead properties are some of the most complicated in the country. A property that's considered to be a homestead qualifies for numerous protections and restrictions offered by Florida law, but both homes and homeowners must meet certain criteria.

These Florida laws fall into three categories: real estate taxes, creditor protection, and death, descent, and distribution laws.

The Rules for Florida Homesteads

You must have legal or beneficial title to the home on January 1 of the year in question, and you must reside there as your permanent residence.

You must apply for the homestead exemption in person at the property appraiser's office in the county where your home is located between January 1 and March 1 of the year in which you're seeking the exemption.

Tip: You can file an affidavit with the county clerk to help establish your intent that this property is your permanent residence, indicating that you intend to make Florida your full-time home. You still won't qualify, however, if you don't meet the other rules.

Homestead status generally remains in place until you inform the property appraiser's office that the property is no longer your Florida residence. Some counties send letters or postcards to remind homeowners that they're required to let the property appraiser's office know when this occurs.

The Save Our Homes Program

Florida's Save Our Homes program caps assessments. The annual valuation of your property for tax purposes can only increase by the lesser of 3% or the percentage change in the consumer price index for the prior year.

Tip: This can lead to significant savings on real estate taxes the longer you own your homestead property.

The Homestead Exemption