Title 9
Courts and Civil Procedure — Procedure Generally

Chapter 26
Levy and Sale on Execution

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-26-4.1

§ 9-26-4.1. Homestead estate exemption.

(a) In addition to the property exempt from attachment as set forth in § 9-26-4, an estate of homestead to the extent of five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) in the land and buildings, or personal property that the owner uses as a residence, may be acquired pursuant to this section by an owner of a home or an individual who rightfully possesses the premises by lease, as a life tenant, as a beneficiary of a revocable or irrevocable trust or otherwise, and who occupies or intends to occupy the home as his or her principal residence. The estate of homestead provided pursuant to this section shall be automatic by operation of law, and without any requirement or necessity for the filing of a declaration, a statement in a deed, or any other documentation. The estate shall be exempt from the laws of attachment, levy on execution, and sale for payment of debts or legacies, except in the following cases:

(1) Sale for taxes, sewer liens, water liens, lighting district assessments, and fire district assessments;

(2) For a debt contracted prior to the acquisition of the estate of homestead;

(3) For a debt contracted for the purchase of the home;

(4) Upon an order issued by the family court to enforce its judgment that a spouse pay a certain amount weekly or otherwise for the support of a spouse or minor children;

(5) Where a building or buildings are situated on land not owned by the owner of a homestead estate are attached, levied upon or sold for the ground rent of the lot upon which the building or buildings are situated;

(6) For a debt due to, or a lien in favor of, the department of human services and/or the state of Rhode Island for reimbursement of medical assistance, as provided for in § 40-8-15;

(7) For a debt heretofore or hereafter owing to a federally insured deposit-taking institution or a person regulated or licensed under title 19.

(b) For the purposes of this section, “owner of a home” includes a sole owner, lessee (but only a lessee who or that was the owner of a home prior to a transfer to the lessor), joint tenant, tenant by the entirety, or tenant in common; provided, that only one individual may acquire an estate of homestead in the home for the benefit of his or her family; and provided further, that an estate of homestead may be acquired on only one principal residence for the benefit of a family. For the purposes of this section, “family” includes either a parent and child or children, a husband and wife and their children, if any, or a sole owner. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any debt owing to a regulated institution, a debt secured by a mortgage or other voluntary lien on a home, or a mechanics’ lien on the property comprising the estate as provided for under chapter 28 of title 34. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, it shall not be necessary to record a declaration of homestead in order to take advantage of the homestead estate exemption.

(c) An estate of homestead shall be subordinate to a mortgage encumbering the home that was signed by all the owners of the home at the time of execution of said mortgage. A mortgage executed by fewer than all of the owners of a home that is subject to an estate of homestead shall be superior only to the homestead estate of the owners who are parties to the mortgage and their non-titled spouses and minor children, if any.

(d) For purposes of this chapter, a mortgage shall include an instrument granting a security interest in a manufactured home or cooperative housing unit. The subordination shall not require the signature of a spouse who is not an owner. No statement that a homestead estate shall be subordinate to the mortgage shall be required in the mortgage instrument and nothing contained in a mortgage or any document executed in connection with the mortgage shall affect or be construed to create, modify, or terminate a homestead estate, other than to subordinate it to the mortgage as aforesaid. A mortgage lender shall not require or record a release of homestead in connection with the making and recording of a mortgage.

History of Section.
P.L. 1998, ch. 270, § 1; P.L. 2001, ch. 189, § 1; P.L. 2002, ch. 147, § 1; P.L. 2002, ch. 226, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 409, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 211, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 376, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 392, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 515, § 1.