Q. We live in a small community that is a 55+ association. The board of directors goes to each home to verify the age of the occupants. If the same people live in the home for several years, do we still need to have them sign something again stating their ages? What happens to renters? When a person sells their home, does that person have to make sure that th buyer is over 55? Could some homes have under age (55 or less) and would they qualify as the 20 percent?
I received well over 50 questions on adult community requirements based on a previous column. I feel that I need to expand on this past column to better explain the Adult Community Law. I would further suggest that you have your attorney review your procedures to make sure that you comply with the exemptions.
You should know that there is a federal law that restricts discrimination on the basis of age. The federal law that I now discuss is an exemption from the age discrimination law. It is called “Housing For Older Persons Act Of 1995”. In 2000, the state of Florida amended FS 760.29(e) to provide communities claiming an exemption from the Fair Housing Act an exemption with certain criteria that paralleled the federal law. The federal guide that all adult communities should have and follow is the Federal Register Part IV, HUD 24 CFR Part 100, April 2, 1999 and can be downloaded at the state site: (http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/library/hopa_final.pdf).
It requires that every other year the board must conduct a census and that all homes must have one person 55 years or older complete an affidavit and show proof of age. This affidavit must be retained as official records by the association. The affidavit confirms that at least one person is 55 or older and that no person under the age of 18 is living in the home. If your documents list higher ages, then I suggest that you have your attorney make sure that does not conflict with federal and state laws. Please note that the federal and state laws do not require the owner to verify the affidavit but an occupant to complete the affidavit. The state of Florida has other requirements and the Florida Commission on Human Relations is where each adult community must register and the information recorded on a database found: (http://fchr.state.fl.us/housing_law.htm). The board must register with the state every other year that they comply with the Federal Act. The state database is available to search as proof as that the community is in compliance.
To explain the 80-20 percent exclusion, both the federal and state laws recognize that upon the death of the primary resident, under-age (less than 55) spouses and survivors should not be forced to move. The question arises at this point, who will inspect the records retained by the association? No state or federal agent will just come to your association and demand to look at the records unless someone one files a discrimination lawsuit. If the records are not maintained, then the community will lose its right to restrict children and may be required to pay a fine. I would strongly suggest that any board that has questions as to the required documents and procedures seek legal guidance.
Q. Some residents want to lower the age limit to live in the park. It is a feeling that this will allow more fulltime residents. We have a rule that only two people can live in a home. Is there any rule on this from HUD or the state of Florida?
Federal and state laws say that an adult community only needs one person living in the residence that is 55 or older and all other residents must be 18 or older. If you documents say otherwise, I suggest that the board ask the association attorney how the documents reflect on the federal adult community laws concerning age discrimination. As to occupancy, that is a local code not a state or federal code. Again, your association attorney would need to prove that answer. Your question relates to the difference between your documents and the laws.
Q. I live in a small condominium. We have a few members who harass our board. While we have some problems, I feel they are not as important as these arguing people do\e. Too many of our members do not want to speak out to support our board. Three of our directors are up for election next month but have said that they will not run again. Our problem is that now no one wants to run for the board. Since half of the members are only here for the winter, they do not care about any condominium business. Any suggestion as how our condominium can overcome this reaction of ‘I do not want to help?’
There is an old saying that 80 percent of the members do not care or support the association (the silent majority), 10 percent care and will become involved, 5 percent are the workers, and 5 percent are the non-supporters and fight the board. You must help the “I do not want to be involved” members to understand they need to become involved in the operations of the condominium. You also need to inform the part-time residents that they have an investment that must be maintained and operated. Maybe a newsletter or bulletin boards would be a start. Have open meetings or socials to discuss the affairs of the association. Invite guest speakers to answer questions of the members. Try to get the members talking to each other. Establish an email or other method to allow “up-North” members to know what is happening and help to get them more involved. I have often said that boards that are challenged often make better decisions.