Imagine being a homeowner in Florida, selling your home and not buying a new home until three years later. Now you realize that your property taxes are way higher than what you were paying before, even though your new property’s market value is not that much higher than your old property. Well did you know that you were most likely receiving property tax savings at your old property? And better yet, you could have transferred some or all of those savings to your new property if you had just filed a homestead portability application within two years.
Florida includes a “Save our Homes” provision in its constitution and statutes and this allows homeowners to transfer or “port” property tax savings from one property to another in the state of Florida, even if it is in a different county. However, a person must first qualify for a homestead exemption in Florida before the Save our Homes provision can apply.
Do I Qualify for the Homestead Exemption in Florida?
Florida Statute 196.031 provide the requirements for an exemption of homestead. A person must have the legal title to a real property in Florida and must make the property his or her permanent residence. Additionally, the property must be the person’s permanent residence on January 1st of the year he or she is trying to claim the homestead exemption.
Therefore, if a person did not qualify for a homestead exemption in either of the two immediately preceding years before buying a new property and establishing a new homestead, then that person will not qualify for portability under Florida law.
What does Homestead Portability mean?
Portability is the transfer of the homestead assessment difference from one property to another. Florida Statute 193.155 governs homestead assessments and discusses assessment of a new homestead at less than just value (“Portability”). Portability applies when the person who establishes a new homestead has received a homestead exemption as of January 1 of either of the two (2) immediately preceding years.
How long do I have to file for Portability?
The main requirement of portability is that the person who establishes a new homestead must have received a homestead exemption as of January 1 of either of the two (2) immediately preceding years. For example, if a person qualified for homestead exemption in 2017 but did not qualify in 2018 or 2019, then that person will not qualify for portability in 2020. Therefore, to be able to qualify for portability in 2020, a person must have received a homestead exemption in either 2018 or 2019.
Can I Claim a Homestead Exemption on a Rental Property in Florida?
Unfortunately, if a homeowner rents their property, this qualifies as an abandonment of homestead and therefore, the person may not qualify for portability under Florida Statute 193.155 depending on when the homeowner started renting the property. For a property to be a homestead, it must be a person’s permanent residence. Florida law defines “Permanent residence” as that place where a person has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment to which, whenever absent, he or she has the intention of returning.