The Sunshine State is well-known for its strong homestead protection laws. Many out-of-state residents move to Florida to enjoy the most protective homestead laws in the United States. Is it possible to place a lien on a Florida homestead property? Read on to discover.
Florida Homestead Property – As Provided by Law
The homestead is the place of one’s primary residence. The right to claim homestead exemption is expressed in Article X of the Florida Constitution.
Section 4(a) of Article X states that a Florida resident’s homestead “shall be exempt from forced sale under process of any court, and no judgment, decree or execution shall be a lien thereon, except for:
- The payment of taxes and assessments thereon,
- Obligations contracted for the purchase,
- Improvement or repair thereof, or
- Obligations contracted for house, field or other labor performed on the realty”
Section 4(a)(1) of Article X defines a homestead’s boundaries as:
- “If located outside a municipality, to the extent of one hundred sixty acres of contiguous land and improvements thereon, which shall not be reduced without the owner’s consent by reason of subsequent inclusion in a municipality, or
- If located within a municipality, to the extent of one-half acre of contiguous land, upon which the exemption shall be limited to the residence of the owner or the owner’s family”
The exemption also encompasses personal property worth up to one thousand dollars. Section 4(b) extends the exemption to the owner’s surviving spouse and related heirs. When the homestead’s owner dies, the surviving spouse and heirs may receive the property clear of creditors’ claim.
Can a Lien be Placed on a Homestead Property in Florida? – Taking a Closer Look
Section 4(a) of Article X expressly states that Florida homestead property is not exempt from “the payment of taxes and assessments thereon, obligations contracted for the purchase, improvement or repair thereof, or obligations contracted for house, field or other labor performed on the realty.”
Hence, Florida Constitution does not protect homestead property against:
- Tax liens
- Mortgage liens
- Assessment liens
- Mechanic’s liens
For instance, if the owner of a homestead fails to pay the remaining amount of a mortgage attached to the property, the lender can file a lien against the property. Another example is a lien attached by a contractor who was not paid for his services or materials used to improve the property.
Cases involving co-ownership of homestead often result in non-exempt liens placed against a property.
If a homestead is owned through tenancy in common or joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, the joint ownership may fail to protect the property’s homestead status if one of the owners does not reside on its premises.
This way, a judgment against the co-owner not residing on the property may result in a lien attached against the homestead’s title. In the event of a forced judicial sale, the non-liable co-owners are entitled to their rightful share of the sale proceeds.