florida homestead exemption act



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Regulation of Homestead Services


What is a Homestead Filing Service?

The term "homestead filing service" means any service offered or performed for compensation in connection with the preparation or completion of a homestead declaration. This includes the preparation of a homestead tax exemption form or declaration, assistance in preparing a homestead tax exemption form or declaration, recording a homestead tax exemption form or declaration, and any combination of these. The offer and sale of homestead filing service businesses are regulated by state law.

Who is Subject to this Law?

The provisions of the law apply to anyone who provides a homestead filing service business. However, the statute does not apply to attorneys, or to those who work under the direction and supervision of attorneys, with respect to legal services that are provided to a client who has retained the attorney to provide those services. Once you hire an attorney to advise you regarding a homestead, neither the kinds of service that are furnished by an attorney, nor the charges for those services, are covered by law.

What is a Homestead Declaration?

A homestead declaration is a written statement, made under penalty of perjury that claims a particular "dwelling" (for example, a house, condominium, boat, motor home or similar property) as the owner's sole and principal place of residence. For simplicity, this guide uses the word "home" to describe any sole and principal dwelling.

When a homestead declaration is (1) signed by a homeowner, (2) acknowledged (i.e., "notarized") by a notary, and (3) "recorded," it helps to protect the home and it’s equity against loss to creditors. "Recorded" means that the original signed and notarized homestead declaration is filed in the court clerk's or recorder's office for the county in which the home is located. A properly prepared and recorded homestead declaration immunizes the home (and the land on which it is situated) from many (but not all) legal creditor enforcement measures. For example, if a homeowner files a petition in bankruptcy, it may be possible, because of a homestead declaration, to retain the home, or at least a portion of the equity in the property, instead of losing it to creditors.

What Protections Does This Law Provide?

The law that regulates those who offer or provide homestead filing services: (a) prohibits certain misstatements; (b) requires certain disclosures; (c) defines the minimum kinds of services that must be provided by anyone who provides homestead filing services; and (d) limits the statutory fees that can be charged.

Minimum Services to be Provided

The law requires that in addition to any other service such as preparing or completing a homestead declaration, the provider shall deliver each notarized homestead declaration to the appropriate county, and pay all fees in connection with the notarization and recording of the declaration. The service provider must deliver the declaration to the appropriate county recorder as soon as needed, but no later than 10 days after it is notarized.


The law limits the fee that can be charged for the filing to actual costs, including notary and recording fees. The homestead filing service cannot charge additional filing fees, demand, or collect the fee unless documents are actually required to be recorded usually after the homestead declaration is notarized.

Required Disclosure

To help ensure that a homeowner is not misled about the need for filing a homestead declaration or the protection that this provides, a homestead filing service must include a prescribed disclosure on advertisements or promotional materials before the time when the owner is obligated to pay for the service. In the case of an oral solicitation or a broadcast advertisement, the disclosure must be recited at each presentation and may be delivered in printed form before each person who responds to the oral solicitation or broadcast is obligated to pay for the service.

In all situations, the printed disclosure must be in bold and must state:



The law makes it unlawful for those offering or providing business services to make certain statements about the homestead law or the particular service that the provider is offering:

  • First, all statements that are untrue or misleading are prohibited.
  • Second, certain kinds of representations are altogether prohibited, including the following:
  • That the preparation or recording of a homestead declaration will prevent the forced sale of a judgment debtor's dwelling.
  • That the preparation or recording of a homestead declaration will prevent the foreclosure of a mortgage, deed of trust, or mechanic's lien.
  • That a homestead declaration is in any way related to obtaining a homeowner's exemption to real property taxes.
  • That the preparation or recording of a homestead declaration is not based on fraudulent or criminal intent.
  • That the homestead filing service has a file or record covering a person to whom a solicitation is made.
  • That the homestead filing service is, or is affiliated with, a charitable or public service entity - unless it is or is so affiliated.
  • That the homestead filing service is not a law firm unless authorized by the state Bar.
  • That the homestead filing service guarantees no particular result(s) from its service(s) or representation(s)
  • That the homestead filing service is, or is affiliated with, any government entity, including the misleading use of a government seal or emblem; using any business name that includes such words as "agency," "bureau," "county," or "city"; or in the name of any city or county; or other title usually associated with a government body, or to use an envelope that simulates an envelope containing a government check, tax bill or other government notice.

As noted above, a person who provides homestead filing services has certain legal duties once that person is hired. The provider must:

1.     a) prepare or complete, or assist in the preparation or completion, of the homestead forms,

2.     b) ensure that the declaration is notarized,

3.     c) deliver the signed and notarized declaration to the appropriate county recorder or clerk of court for recordation,

4.     d) pay all fees charged in connection with the notarization and recordation of the homestead declaration, and

5.     e) complete the recordation process within the time required by the homeowner, usually no later than 10 days after the declaration is notarized.

Why Was This Regulation Adopted?

The regulation was adopted because some providers of homestead filing services were misrepresenting the need for, or character of, the services. A common misrepresentation was that a recorded declaration of homestead protects against enforcement measures by all creditors. In fact, filing a homestead declaration does not protect against creditors whose claims are secured by a prior mortgage or deed of trust on the property, or against a business that has a mechanic's lien on the property as a result of providing services or improvements. Also, some providers concealed the existence of the l protection in order to sell homestead filing services to those who did not need such services.

Sources and Enforcement of Law

The homestead law (covering both automatic homesteads and declared homesteads) is found in Florida Statutes. The law that regulates persons who provide homestead filing services is codified in Florida Statutes relating to business entities. In addition, the Attorney General or a district attorney, and certain city attorneys, may recover a civil penalty for each violation of Business and Professions statutes. Suits for an injunction prohibiting violations and securing restitution of amounts paid by victims may be maintained by law enforcement agencies and private parties.

Should You File a Homestead Declaration?

The filing of a declared homestead does indeed add to the homestead protection that the law provides to all homeowners. Similar protections of a home, or the equity in a property, are enjoyed by homeowners who have not recorded a homestead declaration, but those protections are not quite as extensive as those provided by a properly recorded written homestead declaration in addition to having to extend additional time, resources and funds to protect their home. For that reason, homeowners who are in financial trouble, or who expect to be in financial trouble, should consult an attorney for creditor legal advice.

The following are some of the reasons that a homeowner who is or expects to be in financial trouble should file a declared homestead and not rely exclusively on the homestead:

  • The owner who files a declared homestead can choose which of several different dwellings will be protected as the person's home.
  • The protection that is provided by a declared homestead will continue to apply to that homestead even if the owner moves. If a declared homestead has not been recorded, the homestead protection may be lost if the owner moves.
  • The protection that is provided by a declared homestead will apply to the proceeds of a voluntary sale. If no declared homestead has been recorded, the protection of the owner's equity in a home may be lost in the event of a voluntary sale or refinance of the home. (This means that the proceeds of the voluntary sale or refinance of the home will go to the judgment creditor or creditors rather than the owner.)
  • If a declared homestead has been recorded, the law is clear that the proceeds of sale (up to the dollar limits of the homestead law) can be used to purchase another home within a specified time period.
  • Only if a declared homestead has been recorded will the proceeds of a voluntary sale assuredly be protected after they are used to purchase another home; only then will the protection given to the first home be carried over to the second home.

However, neither the homestead tax exemption nor the declared homestead will protect a homeowner against the loss of his or her home to a secured creditor -- such as the lender who has financed the original purchase, or a lender who extended a second mortgage loan, or to a contractor, subcontractor or laborer who has filed a valid claim of mechanic's lien. The protections of the declared homestead extend to most other kinds of unsecured creditors.

A homeowner who is in financial trouble, or one who expects to encounter financial trouble, should consult an attorney for legal advice.



NOTICE: We attempt to make our regulations accurate as of the date of publication, but they are only guidelines and not definitive statements of the law. Questions about the law's application to particular cases should be directed to an attorney.

This website may be copied if all of the following conditions are met: the copied text is not changed; credit is given to Florida Homestead Services, LLC,; and all copies are distributed free of charge.


Real Property Primary Residence Income - Wages Asset Protection

Homestead Tax Exemption

Protection of Real Property Protection of Income Protection of Retirement
Declaration of Homestead Protection of Equity Protection from Judgments Protection from Liens 



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