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What Are Age Restricted Communities?

Meeting Specific Minimum Age Requirments

Retired couple driving convertible.

Age-Restricted Communities are specifically aimed at persons age 55 and older. Under rules set down by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) in the Fair Housing Act, the housing must include at least one person who is age 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units.

Age-restricted apartments and communities are becoming more and more common in Texas and throughout the country—and there are a lot of misconceptions about them. Here’s an overview of how these communities work in most states, and the truth about some of the common misunderstandings in circulation.

Here’s a breakdown of the types of pricing categories you’ll find in this market:

Affordable. “Affordable” age-restricted apartments typically come with federal, state, and local legal restrictions, as well as rental vouchers and funding, for renters who meet certain income requirements. The income limits and the pricing will vary depending on the location. Generally, no more than 30% of the renter’s income should go toward rent in this scenario.

Market-rate. Market-rate apartments aren’t always specifically at the going market rate for equivalent apartments in the general market; usually, they’re priced at about 15% below market rental rates in their area. However, these facilities usually have more amenities than those geared toward more low-income renters, such as housekeeping services, transportation assistance, and a communal dining area.

Luxury. These apartments tend to be on the pricier end of the scale, but they also offer more room and better amenities. Often, luxury age-restricted communities are found in more metropolitan areas.

One misconception about age-restricted senior living is that these types of communities are illegal because the Fair Housing Act protects from discrimination, and age limits are a form of discrimination. Actually, the Fair Housing Act does not include age in its list of protected classifications—although it does include race, sex, religion, disability, national origin, and familial status.

However, age-restricted communities do need to follow certain guidelines. Many states implement further laws protecting renters from age discrimination, but also allow some communities to cater specifically to seniors.

Many older adults, of course, come with family members who do not meet community age requirements—usually the minimum cut-off point is 62 or 55, to comply with the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995. The Fair Housing Act does not allow discrimination based on familial status—specifically families including children under 18 years of age or pregnant women.

However, the Housing for Older Persons Act does allow communities to bar younger residents if they meet the following requirements:

  • Everyone who lives in the community is aged 62 or older.
  • A minimum of 80% of the apartments house at least one person aged 55 or older.
  • The community can demonstrate clear policies geared toward providing housing for seniors.

Some communities make their age restrictions more stringent than these laws require. Many require that a majority (usually 80%) of the occupied apartments include a resident aged 55 or older, and that all other members of the household have to meet a lower age restriction—such as being over 40 or over 18. Most communities allow young grandchildren to visit, but only for a limited time.

There are some age-restricted communities that also want to make an attempt to attract younger residents. In these cases, some of the apartments will have lower age restrictions. The law requires that 80% of the apartments house someone aged 55 or older in order to qualify for an age-limited status, so communities that try to walk this line may allow younger residents in only about 15% or 20% of their units.

It should be noted that residents with disabilities are exempted from laws limiting the number of younger residents in age-restricted communities. Disabled adults of any age can rent in age-restricted communities without counting against their number requirements for residents over 55 or 62. Renters with disabilities are a protected classification under the Fair Housing Act.

Many of the people who rent in age-restricted communities are older adults who have sold their homes, and who are looking for a rental situation where they don’t have to worry about yard work and upkeep for a larger property. Older adults in senior age-restricted communities classified as “luxury” often use these properties as second homes, allowing them to live comfortably close to grandchildren or the perks of larger cities while keeping homes in more rural areas as well.

Age-restricted communities can be a great option for seniors in a diverse range of income brackets—and some rental assistance may be available for those who meet income requirements. Age restrictions may be difficult for some, especially those that limit visits from grandchildren—but they also serve to limit the community to people with similar interests and at similar phases in life. These communities can be a great option for older adults—and are worth investigating.

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