Long ago Zephyrhills, Florida became somewhat of a mecca for home buyers looking for a place to retire. As a consequence, we have several subdivisions that house mainly persons who are 55 years of age, or older.
According to federal law it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on "familial status". That is to say, a family with a child or children under the age of 18. I cannot refuse to show a home to anyone because the owners or neighbors do not want children nearby. If I did that, there would be serious consequences for all concerned.
There are only two exceptions to this law, and both involve housing for older persons. One is for subdivisions that are used to house people 62 years of age, or older. These are seldom seen in this area since the requirements are much harder to meet.
The second exception is much more common and involves housing for 55+ individuals. There are many subdivisions in our area that fall into this category.
The Housing and Urban Development website says that a subdivision qualifies as housing for 55+ individuals if:
"It houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, and adheres to a policy that demonstrates an intent to house persons who are 55 or older"
However, it appears that the subdivisions can be even stricter than the basic requirements mandate. You can download a Question & Answer Sheet from HUD that will answer many of your questions concerning 55+ communities. Just click on the following link: http://pascoflrealestate.typepad.com/files/qa-for-55-park-requirements-1.pdf
The State of Florida has an online registry of subdivisions that have filed their intentions to function as 55+ housing. You can check for 55+ subdivisions in your county by going to: http://fchr.state.fl.us/fchr/resources/55_housing/directory_of_55_housing_communities and clicking on your county's name.
Note that the state says that just because a subdivision is listed does not guarantee that they meet the requirements for this designation. They do not verify the information that they receive, but rely on what the subdivisions' homeowners associations tell them. They also say that if a subdivision does not appear, they may still qualify as a 55+ subdivision. Can be confusing at times, I know.
As of 12/28/06 here are some of the subdivisions in the Zephyrhills area of Pasco County, Florida that appear on the state's 55+ list. Be aware that I am only listing those subdivisions where you own the home AND the land. I am NOT listing rental mobile home parks where you own the mobile but rent the lot it is on:
- Betmar Acres Club
- Colony Hills Community Association
- Driftwood Condo Association*
- Driftwood Homeowners Association*
- Florida Estates, Inc.
- Forest Lake Estates
- Grand Horizons
- Gem Estates
- Oaks Royal
- Orange Blossum Ranch*
- Palm Estates
- Shady Oaks
- Spanish Trails
- Terrace Park Estates
- Tippecanoe Village
- Tropical Acres Estates
- Valleydale RO Association
- Zephyr Shores
* Conventional construction, ie single-family homes, villas, condominiums, etc. The rest are mobile home subdivisions.
I believe this information to be correct, but you should go to the state's webpage at: http://fchr.state.fl.us/fchr/resources/55_housing/directory_of_55_housing_communities to confirm this data since it can change at ANY TIME. You can also check to see if a particular rental park is listed there.
As the state webpage states, other subdivisions may meet the requirements for being a 55+ subdivision. They may not have filed with the state yet, or their names have not yet been put on the state's database due to a backlog of applications.
I am NOT an attorney and cannot give you legal recommendations. So if you go to a subdivision that is not on the state's list, and someone tells you that children are not allowed there, or if you have any questions about the application of this law, you would be well advised to ask an attorney for legal advice.
You can also seek guidance from the local HUD field office. It is located at: 500 Zack Street, Suite 402, Tampa, Florida 33602 Tel: 813-228-2026
Or visit the HUD website at: http://www.hud.gov/groups/55older.cfm