Below are answers to frequently asked questions about Fair Housing and the housing for older persons exemption for “55+ communities”. If you have a question that you would like answered feel free to submit your question here.
What should I know?
The Fair Housing Act protects all residents from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap or familial status (families with children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal guardians; pregnant women and people trying to get custody of children under 18).
The “Housing for Older Persons” Exemption: The Fair Housing Act specifically exempts some senior housing facilities and communities from liability for familial status discrimination. Exempt senior housing facilities or communities can lawfully refuse to sell or rent dwellings to families with minor children. In order to qualify for the “housing for older persons” exemption, a facility or community must prove that its housing is:
- Provided under any State or Federal program that HUD has determined to be specifically designed and operated to assist elderly persons (as defined in the State or Federal program); or
- Intended for, and solely occupied by persons 62 years of age or older; or
- Intended and operated for occupancy by persons 55 years of age or older.
In order to qualify for the “55 or older” housing exemption, a facility or community must satisfy each of the following requirements:
- At least 80 percent of the units must have at least one occupant who is 55 years of age or older; and
- The facility or community must publish and adhere to policies and procedures that demonstrate the intent to operate as “55 or older” housing; and
- The facility or community must comply with HUD’s regulatory requirements for age verification of residents.
The “housing for older persons” exemption does not protect senior housing facilities or communities from liability for housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, or national origin.
Do parks have to allow 20% of the units to be occupied by persons under the age of 55?
“There continues to be confusion concerning what is often referred to as the 80/20 split. HOPA states that the minimum standard to obtain housing for persons who are 55 years of age or older status is that “at least 80%” of the occupied units be occupied by persons 55 years or older. There is no requirement that the remaining 20% of the occupied units be occupied by persons under the age of 55, nor is there a requirement that those units be used only for persons where at least one member of the household is 55 years of age or older. Parks may decline to permit any persons under the age of 55, may require that 100% of the units have at least one occupant who is 55 years of age or older, may permit up to 20% of the occupied units to be occupied by persons who are younger than 55 years of age, or set whatever requirements they wish, as long as “at least 80%” of the occupied units are occupied by one person 55 years of age or older, and so long as such requirements are not inconsistent with the overall intent to be housing for older persons.” – SOURCE: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Federal Register/Vol. 64, No. 63/Friday, April 2, 1999/Rules and Regulations