Age-restricted communities are collections of housing units, detached or attached, for sale or for rent. The law that regulates these communities is called the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA). While age-restricted communities have been built for decades, the recent changes to the law give these communities greater flexibility in determining what services and amenities that they offer their residents.
The Fair Housing Administration within HUD regulates age-restricted communities, or active adult communities, as they are more commonly called. The basic regulation that governs the community, aside from not discriminating against people on the basis of race or religion, is that one member of the household must be over 55 in 80 percent or more of the occupied homes.
Prior to the more recent regulations put in place in 1995, active adult communities had to demonstrate that they had social programs and other activities geared for seniors. The newer regulations removed that provision, although the communities have the freedom to provide as few or as many social and recreational amenities as they want.
The Fair Housing Administration enforces the age requirement portion of the law by requiring that active adult communities file affidavits with them every two years. They have to ask the residents of their communities to show proof of age through driver’s licenses, birth certificates, military IDs or state-issued ID cards. The must also keep a copy of the affidavits on file as long as they want to remain a 55+ community.
Advertising and Marketing
The HOPA rule also states that the advertising and marketing for the community must be aimed at seniors. Although the community can sell or rent to younger households, the builder or manager cannot aggressively go after younger households in any of its marketing efforts.
The rules also state that these communities have to be contiguous. In the case of apartments, they must all be in a building or series of buildings, away from other parts of a development that allow all ages in their homes.
Active adult communities can be the sole entity of a master plan or they can be part of a master-planned community. If they are part of a larger community, the parcel on which they are located must be separate from the other parcels, and continuous.