In order to qualify for a homestead exemption in Texas, you must meet the following criteria.
- You must both own and occupy the property as of January 1st and claim it as your primary residence. If you own a property, but do not occupy it then you will not be granted the homestead exemption. A common trap for this is when a buyer of a property closes on the house in December and the previous owner negotiates a sale/leaseback until the end of January. The new owner owns the house before January 1st, but does not occupy it until February (after January 1st).
- You can only claim a homestead on one property in year. A common trap for this is when a couple separates, but is not yet legally divorced. If the spouse that moves out makes a purchase, then the couple must decide which party can have the homestead until the divorce is finalized.
- You cannot claim a homestead for a property outside of the state of Texas