Can A Boat Qualify as Protected Florida Homestead?

The answer is yes. A boat can qualify as a protected homestead in Florida so long as it was originally designed to be used as a home.

Florida court decisions have broadly applied homestead protection to all sorts of legal or equitable interests in various residential arrangements. However, several bankruptcy courts have narrowed homestead exemption as applied to boats. Many bankruptcy decisions have said that homestead protection should be afforded only to boats designed and built as residences: houseboats.

A decision in the bankruptcy court of Florida’s southern division protected a boat that was equipped to function as a dwelling, was permanently docked, and was the debtor’s only residence.

To be conservative, however, a Florida debtor should assume that boats designed for recreational or commercial use do not qualify as homesteads even if these boats cannot sail without repairs or improvements and even if the debtor attaches the boat to a dock and uses the boat as his primary residence.

In other words, the majority, but not all, of bankruptcy courts are saying that even if a boat is used as a homestead, it’s not a homestead unless it was designed as a home.

Jon Alper

About the Author

I’m a nationally recognized attorney specializing in asset protection planning. I graduated with honors from the University of Florida Law School and have practiced law for almost 50 years.

I have been recognized as a legal expert by media outlets such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. I have helped thousands of clients protect their assets from creditors.