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Can an RV or boat qualify as homestead under Florida law?

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Can an RV or boat qualify as homestead under Florida law?
Posted on: January 30, 2018
By Mary Merrell Bailey, Esq., CPA MBA MSTax MSAccounting

The answer is an unequivocal, “maybe.”

It is completely fact-based, depending on the circumstances of that particular RV or boat. The relevant terms in the Florida Constitution include “dwelling house” used as a “residence.”

How can I prove that my RV is my homestead?

The process for getting an RV deemed to be taxed as real property instead of tangible personal property is very well-structured. The owner has to apply for homestead in the county in which the owner lives in the RV on land owned by the RV owner, and, in addition to all the other documents that every homeowner has to provide to qualify for homestead, the RV owner has to file Florida Form DR-402, “Declaration of Mobile Home as Real Property.” In DR-402, the homeowner has to certify that the RV was “permanently affixed on January 1 of the current year, is now permanently affixed, and it is my intention that the same remain permanently fixed.” “Permanently fixed” means you cannot drive the RV around.

There are other requirements if the RV is permanently affixed to land that is leased, instead of owned, by the RV owner.

How can I prove that my boat is my homestead?

The process for getting a boat deemed to be considered homestead is much more difficult, and not nearly as well-structured. Again, it is fact-based.

If the boat is the owner’s sole permanent residence, the boat is entitled to homestead exemption if the boat is a “dwelling house.” What makes a boat a “dwelling house?” It pretty much has to be a houseboat that has no motor and cannot be used as a vehicle – at all. A boat that has an engine – even if the engine is inoperable – does not count as a “dwelling house.” To be considered for the homestead exemption, a houseboat without an engine must be attached to a dock via walkways and gangplanks and have utilities hooked up and be your sole permanent residence. There is no form for this; the county property appraiser will be agog trying to figure it out.

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