TALLAHASSEE — It is possible that a
Florida homestead case will end with the decision that was made by
the Florida Supreme Court ruling against the plaintiff.
plaintiff, Venice Endsley, took her denial of two homestead credits
in Florida and also in Indiana to the Florida Supreme Court after
in an appeal to the 4th District Court of Appeals. Endsley lost her
homestead credit in Florida after the Broward County property
appraiser removed the exemption because her husband was receiving
credit for a home he had lived in in Indiana at the same time.
is little reason to believe that she will take the case to the U.S.
Supreme Court after its latest ruling.
“It is highly unlikely
that they will,” Mark Rothenberg, an attorney who has been
published on the issue and teaches land use and property law, told
The Florida Record. “There are a real limited number
of arguments one can make when appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It really depends on the nature of their argument but I think it’s
With homesteads in both Florida and Indiana, Endsley
credit in both states for two different
properties. While homestead laws in every state are different, the
Florida Constitution specifically prohibits multiple homesteads,
leaving Endsley without recourse in her suit.
are highly dependent on the facts of each specific case and from what
I can discern from this case, it looked like even though the husband
and wife lived in two different states, they ordered their finances
together and they still filed joint returns,” Rothenberg said.
intact marriage of Endsley and her husband raised a red flag with the
property appraiser that in most instances is incentivized to spot
instances where properties don’t qualify for the homestead
“It is advantageous for property tax appraisers to
remove that because someone that has bought a house that is valued at
$150,000 in 1985 might be sitting on a property today that is worth
$2, $3, $4 million,” Rothenberg said.
With a homestead credit, Rothenberg
said, an owner is only paying a marginal increase in property tax
each year, making the credit worthwhile for property owners to
receive. With the removal of a homestead credit to a property, the
city sees an increase in revenues and they can accelerate the
evaluation of the property more in line with the current value of the
home. This creates a windfall of revenue for the municipality as it
can also collect on back payments going a predetermined number of
When an individual finds themselves involved with the
loss of a homestead credit, seeking the proper legal council is the
best course of action, according to Rothenberg.
“In any homestead case, seek a member
of the Florida bar with experience in handling property tax issues,”
he said. “These cases are really driven by the facts of each
specific case, and I would also urge anyone with a homestead case to
seek legal counsel with someone that has a lot of familiarity with