If you're purchasing a home in the Florida Keys and plan to live in your new home year round, you'd want to be sure to apply for the homestead exemption for that property.
There are a number of state and local laws providing exemptions that can result in a lower taxable value on certain properties. The homestead exemption is the most common and can provide up to $50,000 off the assessed value of a property used as the owner’s primary residence. This includes an initial $25,000 exemption and an additional exemption (up to $25,000) off the assessed value over $50,000. The additional $25,000 exemption does not apply to the school tax levy, and does not require an application.
Another benefit of the homestead exemption is the establishment of the “Save Our Homes” cap on annual increases in the assessed value. The assessed value of homesteaded property cannot increase more than 3% each year unless there are changes made to the property or the homestead removed.
As a Realtor, I'm often asked if a person can apply for homestead exemption if they are going to be living here part of the year and someplace else part of the year. There are five factors that may make you ineligble for the exemption or cause you to lose it if you are currently claiming it. They are:
- Renting your property
- Maintaining or obtaining an out of state residency based tax exemption or benefit
- Maintaining or obtaining a driver's license in another state
- Fail to register a vehicle in Florida if you drive it here
- Being registered to vote somewhere else
Renting of your home does not automatically mean you will lose or not qualify for the exemption. Rental of an entire dwelling, temporarily, seasonally, or annually constitutes abandonment of the dwelling as a homestead until once again occupied by the owner (FS 196.061). Abandonment after January 1st of any year will not affect the homestead exemption for that year. However, if abandonment occurs for a second consecutive year, the homestead exemption will be lost.
The only exception is for Military Personnel who are transferred out of the County. A copy of the transfer orders is required and we must be notified if there is a change in orders.
You may rent a part of your primary residence, but be sure to recorded it in the property appraisers records. The rented area (and value) of the home is excluded from Homestead Exemption and Save Our Home protection.
For more information about the homestead exemption in the Florida Keys, visit the Monroe County Property Appraisers Office at http://www.mcpafl.org/Exemptions.aspx.