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55 Plus Communities: Are Senior Apartments Only For Seniors?

You may have heard about age 55+ communities. Or maybe you heard someone reference 55 and older apartments. On the surface it seems pretty straight forward – an age-restricted community of people that are at least 55 years old – but what does age restricted community mean really?

Fair Housing for Older Adults

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 actually made it illegal for communities and landlords to discriminate against potential occupants based on protected classes. It was amended in 1988 to include protection for those with disabilities or based on familial status. However, in 1995 the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) passed the Housing for Older Persons Act in order to preserve communities designed for seniors. The exemption did four key things:

  1. It changed the definition of housing for older adults to say that one member of each residence must be 55 years of age or older – qualified communities need 80% of occupied residences to have someone 55 or older.
  2. It removed the requirement that these communities provide substantial living modifications for older adults.
  3. It required that qualified communities must implement a thorough age verification process.
  4. It established a defense for people that have their children excluded from a community that illegally acts entitled to the exemption.

What is a 55 plus community? How is it different than an Assisted Living Community?

So what’s the big difference between apartments for 55 years old and older, and other types of communities such as continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) and assisted living facilities (ALF)? Simply put, the difference is whether care services are needed or not. 55 years and older communities, as a type of independent living, do not need to provide any type of care services, and most do not. However, continuing care retirement communities specialize at being able to providing different levels of care throughout the aging process. CCRC’s provide independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing all in one community so that members can age in place.

Another major difference is that many age-restricted senior housing communities provide low income senior apartments for those that no longer have a steady flow of income due to retirement. CCRC’s and other communities that provide care services often come at a premium in comparison. Keep this in mind when making your decision.

Which Type of Senior Community is Best For You?

For a generally healthy individual, age 55 and over communities may be the way to go. If the need for care emerges, most of these communities allow an outside service to come in and provide home care. Make sure to ask this question when vetting out a community. If they do not allow an outside home care service to provide care, you may find yourself in a difficult situation that may require you to move.

Another thing to consider is the age of the other occupants in the home. If only one person in an apartment is 55 years or older, and they should happen to pass away, the community may force the other occupants to move out depending on whether the community is currently nearing the 80% mark as a whole.

By design, 55+ community members can enjoy life to its fullest without worrying about the more youthful lifestyles of kids, teenagers or young adults infringing on their activities. It also provides great opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals and form new relationships. As with any move, make sure to consider all of your options and ask all the right questions. If you are interested in senior apartments for rent, Apartment Guide has a dedicated section to help you find what you are looking for.