Ann Arbor, MI asked in Real Estate Law and Tax Law for Michigan

Q: Girlfriend and I own 2 properties together, she lives in one I live in another. Can we both get homestead exemption?

Both houses are in the same city in Michigan. We own them as joint tenant in common with right of survivorship.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
Answered
  • Fowlerville, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Your question has a 'fatal flaw'.

There is no such thing as 'joint tenant in common with right of survivorship'. You EITHER own as 'tenants in common' OR you have 'rights of survivorship', It can't be both. Tenants in common implies there is no automatic passing upon death and the property needs to go through probate or some other transfer upon death.

That said, if you *truly* maintain separate households and are *not married* and *don't file taxes together*, you can each take the homestead exemption in the house you ACTUALLY reside in. BUT before you do that, you should seek local legal help to understand exactly what you do own. It probably won't impact the analysis in this question, but it may make a HUGE difference if something happens to one of you!

-- This answer is offered for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney/client relationship.

I am licensed to practice in Michigan only. Please seek competent local legal help if you feel you need legal advice

David Soble
David Soble
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Farmington Hills, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Whether or not you receive a principal residence property tax exemption will ultimately be decided by the municipal tax assessor. Yes, the assessor will look at the deeds and how you and your girlfriend hold title together, but more importantly, they will investigate to determine who lives in the properties. They will look at utility and water bills to see if the property is a rental or not. They may even go to the home to see who lives there. But ultimately, how you hold title to a property in a deed, is not the most important indicator of maintaining a principal 'residence."

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