The Live Local Act in Florida offers a property tax exemption of up to 100% of the assessed value for the qualifying project’s units. To qualify, a project must accommodate at least 71 housing units and cater to occupants with household incomes equal to or less than 120% of the Area Median Income (AMI). Eligible projects may receive an exemption of either 75% or 100%, depending on the income range of the occupants. The program is called “SB 102,” also known as the “Live Local Act” Property Tax Exemption by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
Property owners seeking an SB 102 property tax exemption must first obtain an SB 102 Market Certification from Florida Housing. Following successful certification, property owners may apply for an SB 102 property tax exemption with their local property appraiser within specified deadlines. The Live Local Act Tax Exemption Certification Portal by Florida Housing became operational on October 2, 2023, allowing property owners to commence certification applications for 2024. Applicants must be submitted by December 31, 2023, for consideration for the 2024 tax exemption.
Florida Housing has consistently guided the enactment of the Live Local Act, including the following guidance published on November 29, 2023:
- Occupation Type: Occupation type does not affect certification eligibility. Therefore, multifamily projects providing affordable housing for full-time students and graduate assistants are eligible, provided the property meets other criteria. Income assessment should include all household members, irrespective of occupation type, including students.
- Exemption Determination: Florida Housing will not determine the exemption level a unit qualifies for (i.e., 75% or 100%). Property owners will report planned income categories for specific units as of January 1, but the local property appraiser will decide the eligible exemption for each unit.
- Charges or Fees: Any charge or fee (or tax) considered a condition of occupancy is included in the maximum allowable rent. Determining if a charge is a “condition of occupancy” requires a fact-specific analysis for each development. Fees for access to common areas are included in the maximum rental allowance, while utility billing systems (RUBS) are not included.
- Utility Allowance: No utility allowance is required for SB102 certification.
- Rental Market Study: The rental market study should provide the average market rent for units by bedroom count without differentiation. The highest applicable market rate should be provided if multiple market rental rates exist for a unit based on bedroom count.
- Income Qualification Process: Property owners must maintain and verify tenant income and eligibility documentation. Verification to Florida Housing will occur between January 1 and January 15 via attestation, with no additional documentation required unless requested by the property appraiser.
- Non-Occupant Guarantors: Property owners do not need to include the income of a non-occupant guarantor for calculating household income.
- Income (Generally): Any assets or accounts from which a tenant receives regular and periodic payments should be included when assessing income. Examples include payments from retirement accounts or trusts, social security benefits, and pensions. Specific inquiries on income assessment should be directed to the local property appraiser’s office.