If your community operates as a “55 or over” community pursuant to the Housing For Older Persons Act (HOPA), please note that, HOPA is an exception to the Federal Fair Housing laws, and permits communities to restrict occupancy based on age. This restriction includes prohibiting minors from living in the community. In order to be to be eligible for the exemption and qualify as a “55 or older” housing provider, there are a number of requirements.
One such requirement is that at least eighty percent (80%) of the occupied units be occupied by at least one resident that is 55 or over in age. This “80 percent requirement” has given rise to the “20 percent rule” which has created many issues and numerous misunderstandings in these communities. While HOPA requires that at least 80 percent of the occupied units be occupied by at least one occupant that is the requisite age or over, HOPA, nor the rules adopted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), specify how the association must treat the remaining 20 percent of the community. Instead, the guidance from HUD is that the issue is to be governed by your association’s governing documents (i.e. private contract law) and local ordinance.
Communities which are age restricted must look at their governing documents to determine how the language in their governing documents treats the permissible 20 percent.