Thursday, May 28, 2020

Single Family Home Still Homestead Property Even Though Bedrooms Are Rented Out

In a recent opinion of the 2nd DCA, the appeals court reversed the trial court and held that an entire single family residence qualified as homestead for creditor protection purposes, even though three of the four bedrooms were rented out.

The court applied a two-part test to determine if the commercial use portion can be severed from the non-commercial use portion, such that the property could be divided into homestead and non-homestead property. The court's analysis was as follows:

In First Leasing, this court suggested a two-part analytical framework in determining if the homestead exemption extends to the entire property: first, the court must determine whether the debtor's residence is a fraction of the entire property; and second, the court must determine whether the property can be severed -- that is, by using an imaginary line the residence can be severed from the remainder of the property. 591 So. 2d at 1153. Applying this test to the single-family residence at issue here, the answer to each question is no. Mr. Anderson's father resided in the home and, like the tenants, shared the common areas of the house. Further, the rented bedrooms in the home cannot be severed from the residence by an imaginary line without destroying its utility as a single-family residence.