Liens on Florida Homestead Property

What Is a Homestead in Florida?

In Florida, a homestead property is a primary residence that qualifies for certain protections and exemptions under state law. These include protection from forced sale by most creditors and a reduction in property tax liability.

Types of Liens That Can Affect Homestead Properties

Despite the protections afforded by Florida law, there are several types of liens that can still be attached to your homestead:

  1. Mortgage Liens: The most common type of lien, a mortgage lien, is voluntarily given by the homeowner when obtaining a mortgage. This lien allows the lender to foreclose on the property if the homeowner fails to make timely mortgage payments.
  2. Mechanic’s Liens: If a homeowner contracts for repairs, improvements, or construction on their homestead property and fails to pay for those services, the contractor can place a mechanic’s lien on the property. This lien can lead to a forced sale if the debt is not settled.
  3. Property Tax Liens: While the homestead exemption reduces property tax liability, it does not eliminate it. If property taxes are not paid, the local government can place a lien on the property which can lead to a tax deed sale.
  4. Federal Tax Liens: Unlike most other creditors, the federal government can place a lien on a homestead property for unpaid federal taxes. This lien can ultimately lead to the forced sale of the home to satisfy the tax debt.

Judgment Liens

A creditor with a valid monetary judgment can get a lien on all property you own in the state of Florida.

However, a judgment creditor cannot get a lien on your homestead property so long as you acquired the homestead prior to the recording of the judgment.

Your homestead is exempt from forced sale and liens. But if a lien was placed on the property before it was designated as a homestead, the lien can remain enforceable.

Selling a Property with Liens

Even with homestead protection, certain liens may still be attached to the property, as discussed earlier. When selling a homestead property, any existing liens need to be addressed as follows:

  • Disclosure of Liens: Homeowners are required to disclose any existing liens to potential buyers. Failure to do so can lead to legal consequences and can invalidate the sale.
  • Paying Off Liens: In most cases, liens must be paid off at the time of sale. The proceeds from the sale are typically used to satisfy liens in the order of their priority. For example, a mortgage lien would generally be paid first, followed by mechanics’ liens, and then any other subordinate liens.
  • Impact on Sale Price: Liens can affect the sale price of a property. Buyers are often hesitant to purchase a property with extensive liens because of the potential risk and hassle. This can lead to lower offers, as buyers will account for the cost and effort needed to clear the liens.
Gideon Alper

About the Author

I’m an attorney who specializes in asset protection planning. I graduated with honors from Emory University Law School and have been practicing law for almost 15 years.

I have helped thousands of clients protect their assets from creditors. Before private practice, I represented the federal government while working for the IRS Office of Chief Counsel.