The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status (families with children under the age of 18; pregnant women and people in the process of obtaining custody of children under 18, or persons with written permission of the parent or legal guardian). However, it contains a limited exemption from the familial status prohibitions for housing for older persons.
The Fair Housing Act specifically exempts three types of housing for older persons from liability for familial status discrimination. Such exempt housing facilities or communities can lawfully refuse to sell or rent dwellings to families with minor children only if they qualify for the exemption. In order to qualify for the "housing for older persons" exemption, a facility or community must comply with all the requirements of the exemption.
The Housing for Older Persons exemptions apply to the following housing:
- Provided under any state or federal program that the Secretary of HUD has determined to be specifically designed and operated to assist elderly persons (as defined in the state or federal program);
- 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.
The 55 or older exemption is the most common of the three.
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 such housing facilities or communities from liability for housing discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, or national origin.
- HOPA Regulations at 24 C.F.R. §§ 100.300 – 100.308
- HOPA Questions and Answers
- FHEO’s Disability Page
- Pet Ownership for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities; Final Rule