Article XVI, Section 51 of the Texas Constitution

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As amended November 2, 1999:

The homestead, not in a town or city, shall consist of not more than two hundred acres of land, which may be in one or more parcels, with the improvements thereon; the homestead in a city, town or village, shall consist of lot or contiguous lots amounting to not more than 10 acres of land, together with any improvements on the land; provided, that the homestead in a city, town or village shall be used for the purposes of a home, or as both an urban home and a place to exercise a calling or business, of the homestead claimant, whether a single adult person, or the head of a family; provided also, that any temporary renting of the homestead shall not change the character of the same, when no other homestead has been acquired; provided further that a release or refinance of an existing lien against a homestead as to a part of the homestead does not create an additional burden on the part of the homestead property that is unreleased or subject to the refinance, and a new lien is not invalid only for that reason.

Editor Comments

This section, which defines the scope of the homestead protection for Sections 50 and 52 of Article XVI, is self-executing.

As adopted in 1876, it read: "The homestead, not in a town or city, shall consist of not more than two hundred acres of land, which may be in one or more parcels, with the improvements thereon; the homestead in a city, town, or village, shall consist of lot, or lots, not to exceed in value five thousand dollars, at the time of their designation as the homestead, without reference to the value of any improvements thereon; provided, that the same shall be used for the purposes of a home, or as a place to exercise the calling or business of the head of a family; provided, also, that any temporary renting of the homestead shall not change the character of the same, when no other homestead has been acquired."

It has been amended four times. The most recent amendment, inter alia, increased the limit on an urban homestead to 10 acres.

Steve Smith

Recent Decisions

  • Norris v. Thomas, 215 S.W.3d 851, 859 (Tex. 2007) ("Our realty-focused constitution and laws frame a homestead in terms of tracts, parcels, acres, and lots together with any land-based improvements. In order to qualify as a homestead, a residence must rest on the land and have a requisite degree of physical permanency, immobility, and attachment to fixed realty. A dock-based umbilical cord providing water, electricity, and phone service may help make a boat habitable, but the attachment to land is too slight to warrant homestead protection. Accordingly, Norris's yacht does not qualify as an exempt homestead under article XVI, sections 50 and 51 of . . . and we answer the certified question, 'No.'")

Historic Decisions

  • Woods v. Alvarado State Bank, 19 S.W.2d 35, 38 (Tex. 1929) ("Since it is plain that the general purpose of our . . . . Applying the liberal rule, we think that when once the homestead comes into existence by reason of the family composed of the father and minor children (not finding in the Constitution and laws any designated termination of that type of homestead estate), we are left free to say when it terminates, or rather we are left free to say that, since the estate is created by the Constitution without limit as to its duration, we are not authorized to say when the estate shall determine, except it may of course cease by alienation, abandonment, or by laws such as apply to the divestiture of other estates.")

Library Resources

Online Resources