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55+ Communities -- Understanding the Age Requirements

Posted 07-09-2019 at 03:12 PM by Sunshine Rules

Since FL is very popular with retirees, questions often come up regarding 55+ communities and just who can reside within them.

To be a 55+ community there are specific federal laws, but the state of FL also has statutes covering these communities.

Typically, the right to restrict occupancy based upon age is based upon precise wording contained within a community’s governing documents. It may have been originally drafted that way or it may have been added by an amendment voted in by the owners at some point in time.

To qualify as a 55+ community in FL, the following must occur:

1. At least 80% of the homes/units must be occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older.
(Note: 80% is the minimum requirement, communities can require a higher percentage if stated so in their governing documents.)

2. The community must publish and adhere to policies and procedures that demonstrate its intent to be a provider of housing for those 55 and older.

3. The community must comply, no less than once every two years, with age verification rules and procedures established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

4. Pursuant to Florida law, a 55 and over community must also register with the Florida Commission on Human Relations. (I have come across 55+ communities that have let their registration lapse, so you may want to check the state website for compliance for your particular community.)

Here's where this gets confusing: 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.

Communities may decline to permit any persons under the age of 55 to reside within their communities, 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 (usually under what they call hardship situations), as long as at least 80% of the occupied units are occupied by one person 55 years of age or older. There is no one answer to this question.

So before purchasing a residence in a 55+ community, you will want to obtain a copy of the community's governing documents to carefully review the age requirements of that particular community. Do not rely on second hand information from the seller or their agent as that information may not be correct. And, after reading the documents, you still have questions, go directly to the association management company or HOA/condo board of directors with your questions. I would also suggest getting your answers back from them in writing, whether it's a formal letter or an email. You never know when that documentation may prove beneficial to you at a later date.

One other quick note on 55+ communities. I've noticed that a number of area new construction (builder) communities being advertised on various 55+ websites as being "adult lifestyle" or "active retirement" when the communities are, in fact, NOT age restricted at all. Just because a builder is marketing their community towards retirees does not mean the community is actually a 55+ community. To be a true 55+ community it must be registered with the state of FL and meet the other requirements as stated above in my blog.
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