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Community living: Adult communities are not strictly 55-plus

Adult communities not strictly 55-plus

Q: I read in your column there are certain requirements for a community to be called an adult community. You referred to the Federal Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 and the Fair Housing Act in Florida. You said that a census must be taken every other year. Does this apply to mobile home parks where the resident pays rent to a landlord? Are these responsibilities incumbent on the owners or the residents?

A: The Federal Discrimination Laws do not allow communities to disallow families with young children, but the Adult Community Laws allow an exemption to discrimination on the basis of age.

To qualify, there are certain actions the community must take. There should be a formal document to declare that they are an age restricted community. This exemption can be found for condominiums, homeowner associations, cooperatives, rental projects, mobile home communities, and any other residential association. Each community must post a sign that states they are an adult community. Every two years, the board of directors or the park owners must have the residents sign an affidavit of age showing that one member of each home is 55 or older. The Act of 1995 only says that one member in the home/unit/lot/residence must be 55 or older. The law does not restrict residents who are younger than 55 as long as they are 18 years or older. Children can visit for a limited number of days but cannot be a resident.

The Act is based on residency and not ownership. That means a son or daughter under the age of 55 can buy a home and let their parents 55 or older live in the home. A young investor can buy a home, but he or she can only rent to a 55-plus renter.

There is also an 80/20 percent rule in the Act. It is an exemption that applies if a resident who was 55 or older dies. If the spouse is not 55 years old, she/he can remain in the unit and they would fall under the 20 percent that do not qualify. The same would be true if the property is transferred as an estate to an adult child younger than 55; they can move into the home as long as they do not have children younger than 18.

One other requirement in Florida is that the board must file every two years with the Florida Commission on Human Relations. Failure to do so will disallow the community to restrict residency based on age.

Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115. Please include your name and city.