Every once in awhile, after being fed up with complaints about unruly teenager behavior, a board jokingly asks me “can we exclude teenagers from the community?”  They’re often surprised when I answer yes, the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (“HOPA”) allows communities to restrict its housing to persons who are 55 and older.  If an association qualifies under HOPA, it is exempted from the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition on discriminating against families with children.

To qualify for this exemption, however, the community has to meet the following criteria:

  • 80% of the units must be occupied by at least one person age 55 or older;
  • Publication and adherence to policies that demonstrate intent to be housing for older persons; and
  • Verification of occupancy in accordance with the Act’s requirements.

Friday, HUD charged a Las Vegas HOA and its management company with violation of the Fair Housing Act . Specifically, HUD claimed the HOA did not take the proper steps required to make the community’s 55 and over age restriction legal.

“Limiting housing to adults over age 55 is permitted by the Fair Housing Act only in specific circumstances. HUD insists that homeowner associations fulfill their obligations in order to qualify for an exemption,” stated John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is committed to assist families or unit owners harmed when associations fail to follow the law.”

If your association is thinking about becoming an age-restricted community, or is already one under HOPA, it must ensure that it follows and continues to follow the law, or risk being charged with discrimination. Read more about HOPA.

Melissa M. Garcia
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