If you own real property within the State of Florida, and you have creditors who have obtained judgments against you, those creditors can attach those judgments to your real property as liens by filing certified copies of their judgments in the Public Records of the County your property is located. Those liens accrue interest over time, and can prevent you from gaining access to valuable equity in your home in the event of a refinance or sale. This can leave you feeling stuck in your current home that your family has outgrown, or neglecting a refinance that could be used to make necessary repairs or improvements.
Luckily, Florida law provides for a way to avoid judgment liens from attaching to your real property if the property is your Homestead. Not all property qualifies as Homestead, so it important to first determine the status of your real property before attempting to avoid judgment liens. Florida Statute 222.02 provides for a procedure which allows you to file a notice of homestead in the public records and send a copy of the notice to your judgment creditors, wherein the creditors will have 45 days to seek a determination of your property’s homestead status. If determined to be homestead, or if the judgment creditor takes no action, you are able to sell or refinance your homestead within 180 days of the filing of the notice, free and clear of the judgment liens filed by your creditors (with exception to tax liens or liens for labor or materials to repair or improve your homestead property).
Although this useful tool does not eliminate the judgment owed to the creditor, it allows Florida homeowners to tap into the equity of their Homestead property without having to first pay off those judgments to gain access to whatever amounts may be left over. This allows Florida Homeowners to either sell their current homestead to use those funds towards a fresh new start in a new home, or to refinance and use that equity to make repairs or improvements to their current homestead property rather than being forced to use it to pay off old debts.