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Problems with homestead exemption in duplex

Author Mike Cunningham

#1 - Posted: 1 May 2010 03:26 
Here is the scenario. A 63 tr. old woman and her divorced daughter purchased a duplex in 1992. They lived together in side A and side B had an existing tenant. The daughter claimed homestead on side A. In the summer of 1993 the renter moved out of B. The daughter liked that side better so she moved in to B. Title for B was put in mothers name and she claimed homestead on B starting in 1994. Financial difficulties caused them to need to rent out B again in Oct. 1995. The mother gave up homestead on B for 1996 on. The angry ex-husband has contacted the tax collector and accused them of fraud because the mother didn't live in side B during 1994 and 1995. From the mother and daughters perspective it didn't matter who owned which side of the duplex and who lived in which side of the duplex. The mother has since died, and the daughter sold side B to my wife (the granddaughter), so we got a notice of lien for unpaid taxes in 1994 and 1995. I spoke to the tax collector and was told that we have to prove that the mother actually lived in side B in 1994 and 1995. Since they both started out in side A all the mail was always addressed to the A side. Are we stuck with the taxes (2,500.00)?

Author johnbsims3

#2 - Posted: 1 May 2010 05:57 - Edited by: johnbsims3 
No. In my opinion, The mother owned the entire building at that point. The daughter did not rent, therefore the mother could not lose any existing exemption. I believe the mother had the right to claim the entire property since there was no rental. The notice of unpaid taxes does not transfer to a subsequent buyer. Mail is not a valid proof of residency in regards to homestead exemptions.

Although any one factor is not conclusive of the establishment or nonestablishment of permanent residence, the following are relevant factors that may be considered by the property appraiser in making his or her determination as to the intent of a person claiming a homestead exemption to establish a permanent residence in this state:

(1) A formal declaration of domicile by the applicant recorded in the public records of the county in which the exemption is being sought.

(2) Evidence of the location where the applicant's dependent children are registered for school.

(3) The place of employment of the applicant.

(4) The previous permanent residency by the applicant in a state other than Florida or in another country and the date non-Florida residency was terminated.

(5) Proof of voter registration in this state with the voter information card address of the applicant, or other official correspondence from the supervisor of elections providing proof of voter registration, matching the address of the physical location where the exemption is being sought.

(6) A valid Florida driver's license issued under s. 322.18 or a valid Florida identification card issued under s. 322.051 and evidence of relinquishment of driver's licenses from any other states.

(7) Issuance of a Florida license tag on any motor vehicle owned by the applicant.

(8) The address as listed on federal income tax returns filed by the applicant.

(9) The location where the applicant's bank statements and checking accounts are registered.

(10) Proof of payment for utilities at the property for which permanent residency is being claimed.

The rental of an entire dwelling previously claimed to be a homestead for tax purposes shall constitute the abandonment of said dwelling as a homestead, and said abandonment shall continue until such dwelling is physically occupied by the owner thereof. However, such abandonment of such homestead after January 1 of any year shall not affect the homestead exemption for tax purposes for that particular year so long as this provision is not used for 2 consecutive years.

Author Mike Cunningham

#3 - Posted: 1 May 2010 06:38 - Edited by: Mike Cunningham 
Thanks for your reply John. 2 questions. 1 - The daughter claimed an exemption on side A and the mother on side B ( when the renter left). The problem I'm having with the property appraiser is that they didn't live in the sides that they owned. Even though there was no renter, the appraiser is saying the mother HAD to live in the side she owned in order to claim homestead exemption. 2 - You said "notice of unpaid taxes does not transfer to a subsequent buyer". The daughter -to -granddaughter transfer was initially done as a quit-claim deed immediately after the mother's death giving half ownership of both sides to each person. An attorney helped us fix this so that now the daughter is sole-owner of side A where she lives and has homestead and the granddaught is sole-owner of side B which is rented. The purchase price of side B was $100.00. (a 'gift' that we didn't want) Is this sufficient to release us from the obligation if the property appraiser won't give in on question 1?

Author johnbsims3

#4 - Posted: 3 May 2010 17:16 
As far as the property owner is concerned..."intent' is all that is necessary. If that is where she 'hangs her hat' then it is sufficient. As far as the Property Appraiser, I think they are wrong. If they owned each side, then how can the PA say that they didn't live there?

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Problems with homestead exemption in duplex
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