How Does Homestead Exemption Work?

A homestead exemption offers a homeowner protection on a primary home. The protection can be from a forced sale by creditors, or it can permit property owners who meet local requirements to exempt a portion of the value of their home from property tax liabilities. Some states' laws may provide automatic coverage for specific circumstances through the prevailing homestead exemption without the resident taking action. However, under the rules of some state and local homestead exemption laws, the resident must apply for the benefit and meet certain requirements.

Texas and Maine

Texas residents must apply through the local appraisal district for a general exemption. This exemption is available only to private citizens and applies only to primary residences. Business properties do not qualify. Residents of Maine also must file an application to receive the homestead exemption. Applicants must have been legal residents and homeowners in the state for the previous 12 months and can file only on their primary home.


Homestead exemption laws in Oregon offer state residents protection on the first $40,000 of value of a primary residence against judgments and liens. Should a forced sale be necessary to meet debt obligations, the value of the exemption is returned to the homeowner. Any proceeds received from a sale that exceeds the exemption amount are then given to the legal petitioner requesting the sale. Homeowners do not have to apply for the exemption in Oregon as it is automatic.


In Kansas, the homestead exemption works by protecting homeowners from a forced sale and can include up to 160 acres of exempted farmland. Exempted land in incorporated areas is limited to 1 acre, and the homestead must be the primary residence of the Kansas homeowner. The provision for homestead protection is part of the constitution of the state. However, the law does not protect the homestead from a forced sale required to meet tax or mortgage obligations connected with the property.

Kentucky and Ohio

Kentucky and Ohio provide homestead exemptions on property tax for residents 65 years or older, and for permanently disabled residents. In both states, the resident must apply for the exemption. Ohio residents apply at the county auditor's office. Kentucky residents apply with the local property valuation administrator. As is indicated, laws vary by jurisdiction as to the requirements for protection, the type of the exemption, and how to apply and qualify.