Senior Housing: What you should know...
Housing for Older Persons
The Fair Housing Act (FHAct) protects all residents from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap or familial status (families with children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal guardians; pregnant women and people trying to get custody of children under 18).
The “Housing for Older Persons” Exemption: The Fair Housing Act specifically exempts some senior housing facilities and communities from liability for familial status discrimination. Exempt senior housing facilities or communities can lawfully refuse to sell or rent dwellings to families with minor children. In order to qualify for the “housing for older persons” exemption, a facility or community must prove that its housing is:
Provided under any State or Federal program that HUD has determined to be specifically designed and operated to assist elderly persons (as defined in the State or Federal program); or
- Intended for, and solely occupied by persons 62 years of age or older; or
- Intended and operated for occupancy by persons 55 years of age or older.
In order to qualify for the “55 or older” housing exemption,a facility or community must satisfy each of the following requirements:
- At least 80 percent of the units must have at least one occupant who is 55 years of age or older; and
- The facility or community must publish and adhere to policies and procedures that demonstrate the intent to operate as “55 or older” housing; and
- The facility or community must comply with HUD’s regulatory requirements for age verification of residents.
The “housing for older persons” exemption does not protect senior housing facilities or communities from liability for housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, or national origin.
HUD is ready to help with any problem of housing discrimination. If you think your rights have been violated, you may file a complaint online, write a letter or telephone the HUD office nearest you. You have one year after the alleged discrimination occurred or ended to file a complaint with HUD, but you should file it as soon as possible.
Reminder: Protection If You Have A Disability
If you or someone associated with you:
- Has a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, cancer, chronic mental illness, HIV/ AIDS, or mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- Has a record of such a disability or
- Is regarded as having such a disability, a housing provider may not:
- Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if it may be necessary for you to fully use the housing. (Where reasonable, a landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)
- Refuse to make reasonable accommodationsin rules, policies, practices or services if it may be necessary for you to use the housing on an equal basis with nondisabled persons.
Example:A building with a “no pets” policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.
Example:An apartment complex that offers tenants ample, unassigned parking must honor a request from a mobility-impaired tenant for a reserved space near her apartment if it may be necessary to assure that she can have access to her apartment.
However, the Fair Housing Act does not protect a person who is a direct threat to the health or safety of others or who currently uses illegal drugs.
Accessibility Requirements for New Multifamily Buildings: In buildings with four or more units that were first occupied after March 13, 1991, and that have an elevator:
- Public and common use areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities
- All doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs
- All units must have:
- An accessible route into and through the unit
- Accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls
- Reinforced bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars and
- Kitchens and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.
If a building with four or more units has no elevator and was first occupied after March 13, 1991, these standards apply to ground floor units only.
These accessibility requirements for new multifamily buildings do not replace more stringent accessibility standards required under State or local law.
Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA)Links
Section 202 Program