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Owner shouldn’t lose homestead protection for renting a room

By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law | Sep 9, 2021

Eric Feichthaler

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

I have lived in my home in Cape Coral for 15 years. I am considering renting out a room to a friend of mine, but I don’t want to lose my homestead protections and exemptions. Will renting out a room in my house cause a problem?

— Andrew B.

Dear Andrew:

Our real estate market, both sales and rentals, continue to be very hot. As rents increase, people are seeking affordable housing alternatives, like the situation you note above. Florida’s constitution protects homestead property from forced sale and creditors, which is one of the strongest protections in the United States. If you rent your entire home out, homestead protections are generally lost, both for tax savings and creditor protection. However, what if just a room is rented out. What if two rooms? The key question is whether you, as owner, has abandoned the homestead. In your case, you will continue to live in the property and use it as your homestead. There have been many court decisions rejecting an “imaginary line” analysis that argues part of the home is homestead, while other parts are rented and no longer protected. So long as the property remains your homestead, the protections remain.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 33 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Historical Museum, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for over 20 years, and they have four children together. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

Mr. Feichthaler can be reached at eric@capecoralattorney.com, or (239) 542-4733.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.