What is a 55+ Community?

January 29, 2020

55+ Community Living is the destination blog for everyone who  is considering moving  into a  55+ Community.  Everything from what is a 55+ community, how do they differ, who should and should not choose this lifestyle, when to choose 55+ community living Note: the emotional decision to “Right Size” and part with your years of accumulated stuff, is often the first and one of the most difficult steps in this journey, how much does this lifestyle cost and how to pay for it, and the best way to find the Perfect 55+ Community for you.  I will also cover trends in 55+ communities throughout the United States and which communities and areas of the country are most popular with seniors.

A little bit about me!  I am 62 years old and have lived in a 55+ community in Cornelius, (a suburb just north of Charlotte) NC for the past 5 years.  I moved to North Carolina from Florida where I retired with 20+ years’ experience as an attorney whose practice was focused on Real Estate matters from title insurance and contract negotiations to closing transactions.  In North Carolina, I am a Realtor/Broker,  55+ community placement specialist, and a designated Seniors Real Estate Specialist, SRES.

What is a 55+ Community?

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits housing discrimination under the Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA).

HOPA protects age-restricted communities from being sued by persons who do not meet the minimum age requirements.

Exempted Communities under HOPA

There are two classifications of exempted communities under HOPA. The first is the 62+ restricted community. To qualify, every occupant of the community must be 62 years of age or older. The second and much more popular community is the 55+. In a 55+ designated community, a minimum of 80% of the residents must be 55 years or older. It is important to note that once a community meets the HOPA age requirements, it can impose stricter age requirements on the remaining residents. I have found it to be typical that children must be 19 or older to reside in a home with 55+ occupants.

Exemptions and Exceptions for Age Restrictions

If you will be having children or others residing with you, make sure to check that community’s Covenants and Restrictions before purchasing there. One important exemption to HOPA and community age restrictions is if a senior is the legal guardian of a disabled adult who does not meet the requirements; that person is exempt. Other forms of discrimination under the Fair Housing Act are not protected by HOPA.

What is an age-targeted community?

A third type of “senior community” not protected by HOPA is called an age-targeted community. This community type is similar to 55+ communities in that they typically include lawn care in the HOA dues and the master bedroom is on the first floor, but they are not age-restricted in any way. Most age-targeted communities share amenities with the all-ages communities. Both age-targeted and age-restricted communities are commonly referred to as Active Adult Communities.


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