Dejesus v. A.M.J.R.K., Corp.
Dejesus v. A.M.J.R.K., Corp., 255 So.3d 879 (Fla. 2d DCA 2018)
In this 2nd DCA case, the Court considered whether the homestead exemption on real property could be held by a corporation. It held that the homestead exemption does not inure to a person residing on property, where that property is solely owned by a corporation.
As a refresher, Article X, section 4(a) of the Florida Constitution, provides as follows:
"There shall be exempt from forced sale under process of any court, and no judgment, decree[,] or execution shall be a lien thereon, ... property owned by a natural person." (emphasis added)
The Court held that the plain language of the Florida Constitution requires that the owner of property be a natural person in order to claim the homestead exemption. The Court disagreed with the trial court's position that homestead status attached to the property because a natural person resided there. The trial court relied on Callava v. Feinberg, 864 So.2d 429 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003), wherein the court stated that, "Florida law does not require that a person be the owner of a homestead property to be protected by the Florida constitution."
The Court found the facts in Callava distinguishable. In Callava, the judgment debtor seeking homestead protection was the beneficiary of a trust which owned the real property in question. Thus, the debtor owned a beneficial interest in the property. Here, even though the debtor was the president and sole shareholder of the corporation which owned the real property, because a stockholder does not have vested in them title to the property, the debtor did not have an actual interest in the corporation's property.