New Homestead Exemption Rules Effective September 1

The application process for a homestead exemption in Texas is about to grow more complex.  Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature approved new standards of mandatory disclosure for any one of several kinds of homestead exemptions. Beginning on September 1, 2011, those new rules go into effect.

Prior to September 1, a homestead exemption was relatively easy to obtain; a property owner simply filed an application. Now, home buyers will have to follow new rules and provide more proof they are eligible for the claimed exemption.

In order to receive a homestead exemption for property tax purposes, applicants must now provide a copy of their Texas driver’s license or Texas state-issued identification card and a copy of their vehicle registration receipt with their application for a homestead exemption.

In addition, the addresses shown on each of the documents must be the same as the address for which the homestead exemption is sought, according to the Harris County Appraisal District.

Those who do not own a vehicle will be required to submit a notarized affidavit certifying that fact and provide a copy of a current bill received from a utility company. The address on the utility bill must be the same as the address on the application for a homestead exemption.

The new requirement that takes effect on September 1 is required for any one of the several ways property owners can qualify for a residential property homestead. These include the following:

  • General residential exemption
  • Over-65 exemption
  • Disability exemption
  • 100% disabled veterans exemption
  • Extension of exemption for a surviving spouse
  • Exemption for manufactured (mobile) home

Each of the programs cited above have additional requirements for qualification. However, the common standard is that all such applicants must provide the additional documentation as noted before regarding driver’s license, Texas issued identification card, motor vehicle registration and utility billing receipt.

For those seeking homestead exemption status on a manufactured home, the applicant must also provide documentation as noted below:

  • Statement of ownership and location issued by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
  • A copy of the purchase contract or payment receipt that the applicant is the purchaser of the manufactured home, OR, a sworn affidavit that:
    • The applicant is the owner of the manufactured home
    • The seller of the manufactured home did not provide the applicant with a purchase contract, and
    • The applicant could not locate the seller after making a good faith effort

In order to avoid confusion, the modified homestead exemption form and the referenced affidavits will be posted on the effective date of the new legislation (September 1) on the website of the Harris County Appraisal District at www.hcad.org.

Applications dated and submitted to HCAD by August 31, 2011 will be processed under the pre-September 1 guidelines.

Dana Kervin


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  • I am not sure I can understand the vehicle registration requirement. Does this mean that you must first re-register an already state registered vehicle so that the registration show the new address if you move to a new home and want to change your homestead? Something seems entirely wrong with this requirement. It is bad enough that you now must renew your drivers license with the new address BEFORE you can apply for homestead exemption, but you are also required to pay to re-register your vehicle??. This is another example of an inadequate government creating more hardship on the average person instead of enforcing the existing laws on the monied thieves and crooks who take advantage. 

  • Can someone with authority tell me if this new law only applies to new filings only?  Everyone else is “grandfathered in”?

  • How is the system so broken that investors and others can claim multiple exemptions?  This sounds like no one is minding the store.

    • NO ONE IS!   I have tried to inform my local office about specific properties who have no business claiming an exemption….in fact, gave them 11 examples with evidence….no response.  No change to their status 90 days late.


    • NO ONE IS!   I have tried to inform my local office about specific properties who have no business claiming an exemption….in fact, gave them 11 examples with evidence….no response.  No change to their status 90 days late.


    • Hi, good question.  As of September 1, the new homestead exemption rules are in effect statewide.  Thus, they will apply in all counties in Texas.

  • I have so many questions on this new rule, I am a real estate broker and we also sell homes to people that are not legal in the US, so they are unable to obtain a Texas DL or ID.  Is it fare that these people will no longer qualify for the homestead exemption because of the new rule?  What about allowing them to use an ID issued by their government?

    • Why would they be unable to obtain a state issued ID  If they have a valid ID issued by their government (passport or other valid ID) it should be fairly easy to get a state ID

    • It is “fair”. Those leaching citizens of other countries are not afforded the same privileges as documented citizens of the USA.

    • I’m with the others..I won’t “cry” for an illegal who can no longer buy a house b/c he doesn’t have the “proper paperwork”. They shouldn’t be able to do anything but buy a bus or plane ticket back to where they came from. You should be ashamed to admit that you help them obtain housing, but obviously, money is all you are concerned about. Laws are in place for a reason; without them we have chaos. Is that how you want to live? You are part of our illegal-alien problem, and I hope it bites you in the a** one day.

      • I can see your license has been “Grandfather”. As for “Taking the bus or plane ticket back where they came from.” I suggest that you take the classes for discrimination again. It just show’s the age you are …..Just you name say’s it all.  Only time will say when illegal and Grandfather Laws, are similar. 

    • Unbelievable, for one thing how fair is to me personally that I pay a rediculouse amount in taxes to a school district that is full of “anchor” children who are not raised at home to speak English because their parents can’t. So we pay more for Spanish speaking teachers. Second what part of illeagal do you not understand? If they can’t drive how can they work? If they can’t work legally then their pay is cash and not subject to income tax, how fair is that? I have to pay income tax they don’t? At one time I directed a charity that we received community service workers working off hours for the crimes they committed. Almost everyone I got was illeagal and would ask me if I knew of any local farms that would work them. Part of their probation was being employed which in its self was illeagal. Obviously they were here illegally and had already committed crimes. How is any of this fair to American citizens ether born here or immigrated legally .

  • Is htis a good thing or not?  I can’t tell yet because I didn’t even know it was happening and don’t know enough about it.  Sounds good, but it will place a larger responsibility on homeowners; copying documents, mailing them back, obtaining documents.  I can see compaints on the horizon.

    • Hi Beverly. In order to print out the entire article, all you need to do is scroll to the bottom of the article and press the “print” icon. This will actually reformat the article’s content to be printer friendly. Thank you for your inquiry and please feel free to contact us at any time with any questions or comments.

      Tracy Dunaway
      HAR Multimedia Designer

      • Hi, Tracy, when I press the ‘print’ icon, the print preview shows that it wants to print everything – the article, as well as everyone’s idiotic comments about immigration – is there any way to just print the article so that I can give it to one of my clients at an upcoming closing?  Tom


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