If you or someone you love is looking into 55+ communities, you’re likely curious about the rules and regulations of such a community, along the unique offerings they have.

A resident-owned 55+ community is an age-restricted subdivision, condominium, or housing development that provides autonomy, security, and a sense of community for its residents. 

As the name suggests, at least one person who owns or leases a home in the community must be aged 55 years or older, although some communities may have higher age restrictions. 

When Did 55+ Communities Start?

The concept of the 55+ community began in the 1960s with active Adult Communities (AACs), Age-Restricted Communities (ARCs), or Retirement Communities. 

At that time, most AACs, ARCs, and RCs were developed and operated by private corporations with few, if any, rules or regulations governing their establishment or operation. Consequently, many early AACs, ARCs, and RCs failed to live up to the expectations of their residents. 

In response to these shortcomings and others, state legislatures began passing laws in the late 1970s and early 1980s to regulate the operation of such communities. 

What Do 55+ Communities Offer? 

55+ communities offer many benefits to their residents. Some of these include: 

  • A sense of community: In a 55+ community, everyone is around the same age and in a similar stage of life. This creates a strong sense of community and makes it easier to make friends. 
  • Maintenance and repair services: Most 55+ communities have staff whose job it is to take care of maintenance and repairs around the community. This takes a lot of stress off of homeowners!
  • Security: Many 55+ communities have security features like gates or security guards. This gives residents peace of mind knowing that their homes are safe.
  • Recreational facilities: Most communities have recreation facilities like pools, courts, clubhouses, and fitness centers. This gives residents plenty of opportunities to stay active and enjoy their free time. 

Are There Exceptions to the 55+ Community Age Restrictions?

Since age-restricted or 55+ communities are developments that market specifically to people aged 55 and older, they have restrictions that follow suit. 

While many people assume that you must be 55 or older to live in one of these communities, that isn’t always the case. Some communities may allow people younger than 55 to live there if they meet specific criteria. 

For example, some communities may allow people who are 45+ to live there if they’re retired or if they have a spouse who is 55 or older. Others may require all residents to be at least 62 years old. 

Ultimately, it depends on the community’s guidelines. So, if you’re under 55 and interested in living in a 55+ community, your best bet is to check with the community’s management to see if they would make an exception for you.

What is the 80/20 Rule For 55+ Communities?

The Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA) amended the Fair Housing Act to allow housing communities that meet certain requirements to restrict occupancy to persons 55 years of age or older. 

In order for a community to qualify under HOPA, at least 80 percent of the occupied units must have at least one person 55 years of age or older living in them. Additionally, the community must contain “significant facilities and services” specifically designed to meet the needs of older persons, and it must publish and adhere to policies and procedures that demonstrate an intent to house persons who are 55 years of age or older. 

Although HOPA provides some flexibility for communities that don’t meet the 80 percent occupancy requirement, these communities must still prove that they provide significant facilities and services for older persons and that their overall housing policies demonstrate an intent to serve them.

If you’re looking for a safe, secure, and social environment in your retirement years, then a 55+ community might be right for you! These communities offer plenty of amenities and activities to keep residents happy and healthy. 
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