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Can Someone Under 55 Live in 55+ Housing? – Ask

As baby boomers reach retirement age, many start to reconsider where they live. Married couples with empty nests or singletons looking to regain their social lives may want to move to a retirement or active adult community. These communities allow older adults to live around others of the same interests and age – typically 55 years and over.

adults only sign at pool, to illustrate 55-plus housing

But what happens if you and a partner want to move to an age-restricted retirement community but one of you is not the required age?

What if you have children you want to bring with you into 55-plus housing?

The answers to both questions rest in the community and state where you live.

No Age Protection in Fair Housing Act

If you and your partner or roommate are not old enough to live in a specific retirement community, you may think it’s unfair. You may feel you’re being discriminated against. Usually, you aren’t.

Under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, homebuyers and renters cannot be discriminated against because of their:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Gender
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Familial Status
  • Disability

However, age is not protected under the federal Fair Housing Act. Therefore, developers can set limits on who can buy or rent their properties based on how old they are.

States also can allow retirement communities to set a minimum age for residents. Most do not prevent communities from being for mature adults only because they understand the benefits of income- and age-based housing programs.

Exemptions in Housing for Older Persons Act

One law that could allow you to live in a 55+ community even if you are not that age is the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA). This provides exemptions to family status nondiscrimination if a retirement community meets either of the following conditions:

  • All the residents are age 62 or older.
  • At least 80 percent of the occupied units include one resident age 55 or older, and the community shows an intent to provide housing for those 55 and up.

Once the retirement community meets these requirements, it is free to create its own age restrictions, in compliance with state laws. These restrictions can be more or less strict than the HOPA requirements.

55 candles, to illustrate 55-plus housing

Rules of Age-Restricted Communities

Most age-restricted communities have two rules. The first says that each household (or a certain percentage of the households) must have a resident age 55 or older.

The second rule adds an age restriction for the remaining members of the household, such as a spouse, partner or child. These commonly set minimum ages at 40 for a spouse or partner or 18 for a child.

The retirement community can also set guidelines for how long underage visitors (such as grandchildren) can stay with community residents.

Younger Residents in Senior Housing

Even with all the restrictions placed on senior housing regarding age, you will still find some communities that allow younger residents.

Some communities may get rid of age restrictions in 20 percent of the development while the rest is governed by the HOPA exemption. To be safe, many retirement communities allow younger households in a smaller amount of units, such as 15 percent of the development.

What About Children?

It is rare to find a retirement community that allows young children to live there full-time. However, according to their age restrictions, adult children 18 years or older may be allowed, as long as one of the other adults occupying the unit is 55 years or older.

What Are Your Senior Housing Questions?

Ask After55 is a monthly feature of by correspondent Mary Beth Adomaitis. Submit your questions for consideration in one of two ways:

– Comment below on this article. (Your question will be displayed publicly, so we suggest that you don’t include personally identifying information.)

Fill out this form. (Your question will be sent to us privately. Note, however, that we aren’t able to answer all questions, especially on personal situations.)

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  • About Mary Beth Adomaitis:

    Mary Beth Adomaitis a freelance writer living in Southern California. She has written about senior topics for several senior living websites. She also has a blog, Unwrinkled Hearts, which was started after her mother-in-law passed away in 2015. It focuses on elderly living in the 21st century. Mary Beth has been a writer/journalist for more than 25 years, lending her talents to companies such as The Los Angeles Times, where she also served as a copy editor and graphic designer.


    1. I moved into a 55 and older park for a reason……I don’t want to live around younger people. According to the rules of the park, no one under 55 is allowed but the manager did have her 49 year old living with her……another one has her 22 year old granddaughter living with her. Another resident has her 60 year old druggie son living with her and he has been kicked out of the park for hitting a previous manager, had a protection order filed against him by another resident for hitting him. What can be done to make the park manager and owner enforce the park rules? Thank you.

    2. Wendell B. Miles says:

      Hmm, actually Ms. Adomaitis the question of age becomes somewhat mute when you
      can’t even get a response to the question of age related spousal difference. I am living out of the country and moving back to Phoenix, AZ. as of July 2017. Now I am 68 and my wife is 30 and a teacher. I have written or requested the acceptance or not, of the age difference. With no answer to the specific question of can we be accepted. I have even sent online dual applications with a deposit that was kept but no response at all. I thought that was illegal and deposits returned if not accepted. My working theory is no news is good news. But is there discrimination based on cultural acceptance of older younger age differences in our society? Anyway at this point I will assume(ouch), that
      I am simply requesting an apartment too far in advance and will re-request at the 55+ and up level about two months out rather than this early. It still bothers me that they will allow a child to live in a 55+ and not a wife unless 40. Especially since my wife is my only support system. Thanks in advance for allowing me to vent.

    3. My husband and I ,need a senior apartment ,I am 55 ,we are looking in Hillcrest and North Park

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