Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Fair Housing claims are all too common in homeowners, condominium, and cooperative associations. But how do Fair Housing Laws apply to age-restricted communities?
A recent example in Lakeland, Florida, is particularly noteworthy.
Skyview Estates is a 55+ age-restricted, gated, manufactured home community.
The HOA board recently denied housing to Nikole Haase, a woman with cerebral palsy. Nikole is 27 years old, uses a wheelchair, and requires assistance with daily living. Nikole would be residing with her mother and caregiver, Linda Haase, who is over age 55. The HOA allowed Linda to move into the community, but refused to allow her daughter to live with her, insisting that the reason for denial of housing to Nikole is due to the age restriction.
A fair housing complaint was filed by the family in the state of Florida.
Recently, FL Commission on Human Relations concluded that Skyview Estates HOA violated the Fair Housing Act by denying a 27-year-old disabled woman from moving into the gated, manufactured home community.
Age-restricted communities are permitted under the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA). Essentially, the HOPA provides an exemption from familial status protection under the Fair Housing Act.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):
In order to qualify for the exemption, the housing community/facility must satisfy each of the following requirements:
a) at least 80 percent of the occupied units must be occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older per unit;
b) the owner or management of the housing facility/community must publish and adhere to policies and procedures that demonstrate an intent to provide housing for persons 55 years or older; and
c) the facility/community must comply with rules issued by the Secretary for verification of occupancy through reliable surveys and affidavits.
Skyview Estates can allow up to 20 percent of its residents to be under the age of 55, as long as they reside with someone who meets the age requirement. According to the following report, Skyview also sets a minimum age of 45, but, upon investigation, has other residents under the age of 45 who have not been forced to move out of the community.
HOA President Bonnie Powell has expressed concern that allowing Nikole to remain at Skyview sets a new precedent for age-restricted communities in the U.S.
But is Nikole’s age the real concern? Or do some people at Skyview Estates prefer to avoid dealing with the disabled dependent of a resident?
Lakeland senior living community in trouble over refusing 27-year-old resident
- Nikole Haase, 27, not allowed to live with mother Linda at Skyview Estates
- Nikole is wheelchair-bound, requires constant care
- Case will set precedent, change the way senior communities operate in Florida
Linda Haase, 55, wanted to move into Skyview Estates in Lakeland to be closer to her family, who also live in the community.
The park, however only allows people 55 and older to live in homes inside the gated property. It does make exceptions for people over 45, if they are also living with a 55 year old.
Haase was allowed to move in, but board members voted to not allow her 27-year-old daughter Nikole to live there because she is too young.
Nikole is wheelchair bound, with cerebral palsy, and requires constant care. As Nikole’s primary caregiver, Linda petitioned the park to allow them to live together there due to her disability.
When the park refused, Haase filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, which sided with her. The commission found the park was in violation of the Fair Housing Act, and forced Skyview Estates to allow Nikole to move in.
For more information, read HUD’s HOPA Questions and Answers:
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