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.
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:
- National Origin
- Familial Status
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.
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
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?
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