South Florida is famous as a retirement paradise, and many of our local condominiums exist to meet the needs and lifestyles of those enjoying a retirement lifestyle. There are countless “55 Plus Communities” here in the Broward County and in the Miami-Dade area, where “most” of the residents are age 55 years or older.
1. Does Federal law allow for 55+ protections as an exception to our discrimination laws?
If a Florida condominium can meet certain federal requirements, it can legally prevent some people from living there — like families with kids, or occupants under the age of 18 years old. The Fair Housing Act allows for discrimination that favors 55+ condominiums as long as the Condo Board can show:
1. At least 1 person living in at least 80% of the condo units is 55 years old or older;
2. The Condominium Policy is to be a community that exists as “housing for older persons” (this includes its marketing and promo materials as well as its controlling documents);
3. The Condo Board files the necessary proof (affidavits, etc.) with the federal government to support compliance with this law.
2. Can there be Florida 55+ Condos with young people (even kids) living in them?
The federal law allowing for housing specific to older adults doesn’t guarantee 100% ownership and occupancy by people who are over the age of 55 years. For one thing, to qualify as part of the 80% requirement (see above), only one resident needs to be 55 years old or older. The other resident can be of any age and that unit will meet the test for the Condo Board to satisfy under federal requirements.
So, if a grandma has her granddaughter stating with her, that’s okay.
Also, a significant minority of the condo units can have anyone living in them. Up to twenty percent (20%) of a Florida 55+ Condo Community can have people under 55 or even families with small kids living in them, and that’s legally okay. You see this happen in cases where the older resident passes away, and his widow (or her widower) is under the age of 55. Sometimes, too, condo units are bought at foreclosure sales by people under the age of 55 years.
Of course, you may find Florida 55+ Condominiums where everyone living there is over the age of 55 years. After all, that’s how they are being marketed. However, it’s not legally enforceable to have 100% occupancy over the age of 55. You could buy a 55+ condo unit here, and a couple of years later, have teenagers living down the hallway. It’s possible.
3. Is the Answer Who Lives in the Condo or Who Owns It?
For Florida “55 and over” condo communities, the key is who is actually living in the condos. Adult children are free to buy a Miami condo for their mom and dad to enjoy, and as long as the parents live in the condo unit, it meets the federal requirement of having someone residing there that his 55 years of age or older.
In other words, the The Fair Housing Act does not regulate condo ownership. It regulates condo residency and condominium use.
4. What Does a Condo Board Need to Do to Keep Current and Protect Its 55+ Status?
Under the law, a Florida condominium cannot qualify itself with the Department of Housing and Human Services and then wipe their hands together, saying “that’s that.” It’s going to be a continuing duty of the Condo Board to make sure that the necessary requirements to update the condominium’s residency status is done. Every 24 months or so, proof of that 80% occupancy by residents age 55 or older has to be provided to the authorities, or the condominium risks losing its 55+ Community status.
Are You Concerned About Buying or Protecting Your 55+ Condo?
If you have questions about buying or living in a 55+ Condominium here in Florida, then having a Florida condo lawyer review not only the applicable laws but the individual condominium documents can be important in protecting and enforcing your rights — particularly if you are concerned about buying a condominium in one of these communities or if there’s a chance that your community may lose its Adult Community status.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific or personal situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments.