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Elderly Housing

Written by Edward Clark, Spectrum Enterprises

The term “Elderly Housing” gets thrown around a lot. Too much in fact, because often we hear a property described as “Elderly Housing” when it doesn’t actually meet the requirements to be called that.

“We have an Elderly Preference” – Don’t we all? They pay the rent on time, their apartments are usually very tidy and at least half the time they smell a little like my grandmother.  There is no “Elderly Preference” in housing. You may target the elderly in your marketing by placing advertisements in the AARP newsletter or passing out flyers at the local bingo parlor but don’t let your staff tell people your property has an “Elderly Preference”. That could be seen as discouraging eligible households from applying.

Elderly housing is unique in that it is the only type of rental housing that can actually discriminate on the basis of familial status. Even that doesn’t mean you can deny people with children however. You need to understand the different types of elderly housing and what makes them different from each other. Here is a quick and easy to follow primmer:

1) Any housing that is recognized by the Secretary of HUD as “Elderly Housing”. At least the head or co-head must be handicapped OR disabled OR 62 years old or older. I put handicapped/disabled ahead of 62 or older because people sometimes assume a 25 year old in a wheelchair doesn’t belong in “Elderly Housing”. They do. It’s the law. Children are allowed as members of the household too.

2) 62 and older housing. This one is easy. Every resident must be 62 or older. No kids, no 25 year olds in wheelchairs. Today, if you weren’t alive the year the Korean War ended, you cannot move into this type of housing.

3) 55 and older housing. This provides the biggest pool of potential tenants, and the biggest potential to make a mistake. 80% of the units must be occupied by a head or co-head that is 55 or older. The remaining units can be occupied by anybody. Families with kids, people with disabilities, ugly people. They can all live here. That doesn’t mean you should rent up 20% of your units to people under 55 though. Instead, you need to track the make-up of your community to make sure you never fall below the 80% threshold. If an 86 year old man moves in with his 30 year old second wife (it could happen) and he dies while doing push-ups trying to impress her (will probably happen), the household no longer counts as a 55 and older household. So they moved in as part of your 80% but suddenly became a part of your 20% instead. Once the property drops below 80% the property is no longer elderly housing and is open to everyone regardless of age. 55 and older housing must also provide at least one service or amenity that benefits people of advancing age. Yoga classes, trips to the grocery store, a fitness room can all qualify.

I hope this helps. Now where did I leave my keys??


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