The Rhode Island Homestead Exemption

Rhode Island has a generous homestead exemption for bankruptcy filers. Learn about it here.

Most people want to know whether they can keep valuable property before filing for bankruptcy—especially a home. If you qualify to use the Rhode Island homestead exemption, you can protect some or all of the equity in your house. In this article, we explain:

  • how much the Rhode Island homestead exemption will cover, and
  • how to apply it in your bankruptcy case.

For more bankruptcy information, read How to File Bankruptcy in Rhode Island. Not only will you find answers, but it includes helpful checklists and a link to an interactive bankruptcy quiz. Or, try the start-to-finish bankruptcy guide, What You Need to Know to File for Bankruptcy.

Homestead Exemptions Available in a Rhode Island Bankruptcy

Rhode Island lets filers use either the federal exemption system or Rhode Island's state exemption system, so you'll have two homestead amounts to choose between. However, you can't mix exemptions from both lists, so you'll want to select the system that will protect your most important assets.

To help you make an informed choice, we've listed both exemption amounts below. We've also included links to more complete federal and state exemption lists so you'll have an easier time deciding which set will work best for you.

If you're married, keep in mind that spouses can double some exemption amounts, but not all. Find out about other filing considerations for spouses.

Federal Homestead Exemption

Rhode Island Homestead Exemption

Homestead exemption amount

$25,150

$500,000

Can spouses who file a joint bankruptcy double the exemption?

$50,300 is available to spouses who co-own property.

No.

Homestead exemption law

11 U.S.C. § 522(d)(1)

R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-26-4.

Other information

Amounts will adjust on April 1, 2022.

Amount changes periodically.

Compare other federal and state exemptions.

Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

Rhode Island Bankruptcy Exemptions

Property Protected by Rhode Island's Homestead Exemption

In Rhode Island, the homestead exemption applies to real property, including a home or other land and buildings that the owner occupies or intends to occupy as a principal residence.

If you hold property as tenancy by entirety with your spouse: If one spouse files for bankruptcy—not both—the bankruptcy trustee might be prevented from using the property equity to pay off debts. However, this is a tricky area of law. Talk with a local bankruptcy attorney before filing to ensure that you don't lose valuable property.

Timing Your Rhode Island Bankruptcy

You can file for bankruptcy in Rhode Island after living there for more than 180 days. However, you must live in Rhode Island much longer before using Rhode Island exemptions—at least 730 days before filing, to be exact. Otherwise, you'd use the previous state's exemptions.

But suppose you lived in multiple states during the two years before filing for bankruptcy. In that case, you'd use the exemptions of the state you lived in for most of the 180 days before the two-year period that immediately preceded your filing. (11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(A).) Learn more about filing for bankruptcy after moving to a new state.

Also, to claim the total value of the Rhode Island homestead exemption, you must have purchased and owned the property for at least 1,215 days before the bankruptcy filing. If you can't meet this requirement, your homestead exemption is limited by federal law to $170,350 (this figure will adjust on April 1, 2022).

Learn more about this requirement, the current amount of the federal cap, and other important exceptions to homestead exemptions.

Claiming the Rhode Island Bankruptcy Homestead Exemption

In Rhode Island, the homestead exemption is automatic – you don't have to file a homestead declaration with the recorder's office in order to claim the homestead exemption in bankruptcy. Instead, when completing your bankruptcy forms, you'll list your homestead exemption on Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt. You can find out about other requirements you'll need to meet to avoid losing your home in Your Home in Chapter 7 or Your Home in Chapter 13.

Finding the Rhode Island Bankruptcy Homestead Exemption Statute

You'll find Rhode Island's homestead exemption in the Rhode Island General Laws at § 9-26-4.1 on the Rhode Island General Laws website. Learn about finding state statutes in Laws and Legal Research.

Need More Help?

You might not know this, but Nolo has been making the law easy for DIYers for over fifty years. If you have questions, use the links we've included throughout for more details. Otherwise, you'll find the answers to almost all of your bankruptcy questions at nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/bankruptcy or by consulting with a local bankruptcy lawyer.

This overview cannot provide all of the information you'll need to file a bankruptcy case. For more detailed information, consider buying a self-help book such as How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O'Neill and Albin Renauer J.D.

Updated July 15, 2021

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