Retiring in South Florida is the dream for many Americans, and for those who do retire here in the MiamiDade – Broward – Palm Beach counties area, that often means moving into a beautiful condominium with beach access or ocean views. Condo living offers a great many advantages for retirees, and condominiums in our local communities are often marketed to those aged 55 and older. These “55+ condos” are located all over South Florida.
There’s good reason for this. The Florida Department for Elder Affairs reports that the retirement industry is the 2nd largest economic sector in the State of Florida, which means our state relies upon retirees for their economic contributions here.
And out of all of Florida, the top three counties most popular with senior citizens here are those in our neck of the woods:
- Miami – Dade (1st);
- Palm Beach (2nd); and
- Broward (3d).
Senior Communities and 55+ Condos
Retirees opting for the Florida condo lifestyle here are looking for freedom from things like mowing lawns or shoveling snow. Many are also wanting peace and quiet and the enjoyment of sharing their condo common areas with fellow retirees. Lots of people moving here after raising their families and building their careers do not want to deal with kids in the swimming pool or teenagers in the parking lot.
Which is why age-specific condominium communities have become so popular here in Florida, and why the government has approved the 55+ condominium as an acceptable form of discrimination against some buyers.
However, those interested in buying a Florida Condominium in a 55+ Condo community need to know that not only are these condominiums not necessarily without families or young people residing there (see our earlier post for details), the Condo Board of Directors which runs the condominium itself need not be filled with people over the age of 55 either.
To find approved 55+ Communities approved by the Florida Commission on Human Relations within a specific county, check:
The Tricky Twenty Percent (20%)Resident Rule
Federal law controls “55+ condos” housing. Under federal statute, some form of discrimination is allowed for senior communities such as 55+ condominiums, but only 80% of the condominium must be have units where at least one person is over the age of 55 years. (This is occupancy, not ownership.)
Which means that up to 20% of the condo units in a Florida 55+ Condo unit need not have people over the age of 55 years living in them. But does it mean that these younger residences, who may not have the same concerns, wants, or needs as the retirement folk, can live here and throw a wrench into the purpose and plan of a retirement community?
That remaining 20% causes lots of confusion. Age-restricted Florida condominiums vary here, and the condo documents control. There are two approaches here:
1. Some 55+ condos will have governing documents that specify that a surviving spouse, or surviving child, who is living with the older resident at the time of his or her death may remain in the condo even if they are under the 55 year age limit.
2. Other 55+ condos have documents with provisions that state the individual condo unit can have any age resident, even babies, as long as the 80% residency requirement for the 55+ community has been met for the Fair Housing Amendments Act.
Common 55+ Condo Questions
Here are some common 55+ Condo Concerns that potential buyers as well as current residents may have:
1. Can the condominium lose its 55+ Community status with the State of Florida?
Yes. There are legal requirements that must be met at least every 24 months and if the Condo association isn’t keeping up with that responsibility, then the state agency may revoke the 55+ status.
2. Can we be sure that no loud kids or unruly teenagers are living in the Condominium because of language in the Condo Documents?
No. While there may be condo rules in the condo documents that prohibit permanent residences under a certain age (say, 16 years), the Condo Board cannot legally bar the sale or the rental of a condo unit to someone with kids under that age. The Fair Housing Act was amended in 1989 to stop discrimination based upon “familial status” and this change in the law voids those old condo document provisions that barred teenagers and young children from living in the communities here.
Those wishing to live in a retirement community need to make sure that it is marketed and maintained as a “55+ Community” and that it is in compliance with the federal fair housing laws. Not all condos are “55+ condos” and not all condos marketed as “retirement communities” are “55+ condominiums” as recognized by federal law.
3. What about when a Florida 55+ Condo is Inherited by Someone Under 55 Years of Age?
Whether or not that condo unit can be used as the home or residence of that person, who is under the age of 55, depends both upon Florida law and the particular condo documents that control that condominium. Heirs and beneficiaries may or may not be able to live in that sunny, oceanfront Florida condo — it depends.
Thinking About Purchasing or Protecting Your 55+ Florida Condo?
If you have questions about a Florida 55+ Condominium, then working with a Florida condo lawyer to determine what applies to the condominium under federal law, state law, and the individual condo documents is important — especially in situations where you are concerned that there is a threat to continued statutory Adult Community status under the Florida Fair Housing Amendments Act.
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.