55 AND OVER COMMUNITIES – HOW TO BECOME ONE AND STAY ONE
Eric Glazer, Esq.
Published August 7, 2017
Yesterday was a big day. I turned 50. It’s a time to not only
reminisce about the past, but also a time to think about the
future, and retirement and whether or not a “retirement
community” or “55 and over” community is in the future.
So, what actually is a “55 and over” community?
Generally speaking, state and federal law prohibit an
association from discriminating against families with children.
This simply means that a community cannot say that children are
not allowed to live here. The exception to the rule is when the
community provides “housing for older persons” and is a 55 and
over community. If your condominium or HOA governing documents
prevent children from living in the community, but you are not a
“55 and over” community, the restrictions against children are
In a 55 and over community, the declaration of
condominium or declaration of covenants must specifically state
that at least one person age 55 or older must live in the unit
or home. Moreover, in order to qualify as a 55 and over
community, at least 80% of the units or homes must be occupied
by one person age 55 or older. There is often times confusion
about this 80% number. In sum, the 80% number is simply a
threshold that must be maintained in order to be classified as a
55 and over community. It does not mean that if the community
already has 95% of the units being occupied by someone 55 and
older, the association must now allow a unit to be occupied by
someone who is not age 55 or older.
Associations must also register with the Florida Commission on
Human Relations by sending a letter to the Commission to
register as a facility for older persons. The letter must be on
the letterhead of the facility or community, and it must be
signed by the president of the facility or community and mailed
to the Commission. A fee of $20.00 is required. Simply
registering as a 55 and over community is not enough to qualify
as a 55 and over community.
Additionally, ownership of the units are not a
concern. The unit can be owned by anyone and their age is
irrelevant. An 18 year old can own the unit. The critical
issue in a 55 and over community is occupancy, not ownership.
One serious problem that 55 and over communities
face is that they can lose their exemption to preclude children,
if at least once every two years the association is not taking
“reliable surveys” to ensure that the units are occupied by at
least one person age 55 or older. When taking these surveys,
the association can ask for copies of birth certificates,
driver’s licenses, passports or other identification from which
the age of the occupant can be determined.
For those of you who live in a 55 and over community, how do you
like it? Do you miss the noise of kids playing in the street or
in the hall? Has a 55 and over community improved your social
life? Was it the right move for you? Are there some blog
readers that would prefer to live with the noise generated by
HOA & Condo Blog
Eric Glazer graduated from
the University of Miami School of Law in 1992 after
receiving a B.A. from NYU. He has practiced community
association law for more than 2
decades and is the owner of Glazer
and Associates, P.A. a seven attorney law firm with offices in
Fort Lauderdale and Orlando and satellite offices in Naples,
Fort Myers and Tampa.
Since 2009, Eric has been the host
of Condo Craze and HOAs, a weekly one hour radio show that airs
at noon each Sunday on 850 WFTL.
He is the first attorney in the
State of Florida that designed a course that certifies
condominium residents as eligible to serve on a condominium
Board of Directors and has now certified more than 10,000
Floridians all across the state. He is certified as a Circuit
Court Mediator by The Florida Supreme Court and has mediated
dozens of disputes between associations and unit owners. Eric
also devotes significant time to advancing legislation in the
best interest of Florida community association members.