When it comes to the bankruptcy process, Florida’s homestead exemption is the envy of the country. According to Florida law, someone filing for bankruptcy is allowed to exempt all of the equity in their home – but only if they satisfy all of the rules surrounding this provision. If you are a homeowner in the Sarasota area and are considering bankruptcy, here are the facts you need to know about Florida homestead exemption.


  • Domiciled for 2 Years: The individual must have resided in Florida for two years before filing for bankruptcy. If they do not meet this requirement, the Court will consider the rules of the state in which they resided for the majority of the 180 days immediately preceding the two-year period. (read the Statute)
  • Cap on Homestead Exemption: The filing party must have owned the home in question for no less than 1,215 days before filing the bankruptcy. If this rule is not met, the homestead exemption in Florida is capped at $170,350.00. (read the Statute)
    Limitations on Acreage: The residence cannot be situated on more than one-half of an acre if within a municipality and no more than 160 acres if located outside a municipality. (read the Statute)
  • Family Residence: An individual filing for bankruptcy technically must live at the home to qualify for the Florida homestead exemption; however, the exemption also applies to a residence where the “family” resides. Therefore the Florida exemption also applies even if the filing party does not live there but has a legal obligation to support the people residing in the property. (read the Statute)
  • Special Exemption for Mobile Homes: Florida provides a separate homestead exemption for those living in mobile homes sitting on a rented lot. It states that any individual owning and occupying any dwelling, including a mobile home, on land not owned by the homeowner is entitled to the exemption. (read the Statute)
  • Non-Traditional Homes: The state of Florida reserves the right to apply the homestead exemption for mobile homes to boats, travel trailers, and motor homes. In deciding if the exemption applies, the Court will consider the debtor’s intent to make it their home, whether or not they have another residence if they have continually lived in the property, and whether the property permits long-term habitation.

When a Homestead Property is Sold

When an exempt Florida homestead is sold, the proceeds may be used to purchase another homestead as long as the following rules are met.

  • The filing party has a good faith intent to purchase a new homestead with the money within a reasonable time
  • The individual does not commingle the sale proceeds with other funds.

In Conclusion

Like many aspects of the bankruptcy process, navigating the nuances of homestead exemptions can get complicated. While you have the legal right to file for bankruptcy on your own, there is no need to go it alone. A professional and experienced bankruptcy attorney can listen to your story, provide legal recommendations and help you to decide if bankruptcy is right for you. Once you choose to file, your attorney will ensure you hit every deadline and fill out all paperwork correctly.

If you are facing bankruptcy and aren’t sure what to do about your home, call the bankruptcy attorneys at the Sarasota law offices of Richard V. Ellis.