People who are not permanent U.S. residents cannot claim Florida homestead exemption. Citizens of other countries residing in Florida need at least a “green card” in order to qualify for homestead protection. Does it make any difference if the foreign residents live in the house with dependents who are legal U.S. citizens?
The Florida Supreme Court considered the case of a husband and wife who were citizens of Honduras and residing legally in the U.S. with a temporary visa. The couple could not claim Florida homestead because they had no permanent residency in the U.S. The couple, however, lived in their Florida condominium with their minor children. The children were, unlike their parents, citizens of the United States and Florida. The evidence showed that the children intended to permanently live in the property.
The Supreme Court said the couple could claim homestead for purposes of the property tax deduction under Section 194.011(3) of the Florida Statutes. Homestead status would also exempt the condominium from creditors. The Court reasoned that the homestead laws are designed to benefit both the owner and the owner’s family. The property owners can claim homestead if their children dependents could qualify as permanent residents of the property.