Dear Co-op Counselor; HELP!

Dear Counselor;
We are a Senior Living Community, a Cooperative, and a 55+ community or so we say in various advertisings. We have been told that we have a Fair Housing 55+ exemption which I am told means we are able to discriminate based upon age for prospective members. When the question came up about a person wanting to buy in to the cooperative who was 55 but had a 52 year old spouse, one person said we could not stop them and another person said we could lose our 55+ exemption if we allowed the 52 year old in. Without the 55+ exemption we would have to allow anyone to buy in who wanted to and our community and atmosphere would be forever changed. Which person is right or are they both right or wrong?


Dear Confused;
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.


Per HUD guidelines and the Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA), 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.


Therefore, the 55 year old may be approved for occupancy with his 52 year old spouse so long as he continues to occupy the dwelling then the senior housing exemption will not be lost.

While we hope this information is helpful in answering some of your questions, please be advised that the answers provided here are for “general” informational purposes only. This information should not be construed as “legal advice” either to the individual or the Cooperative that they represent, the use of this forum does not
create an attorney-client relationship between the user/reader and Mr. Pentiuk or his law firm, Pent iuk, Couvreur and Kobiljak, P.C.

For specific legal advice and personalized assistance with regard to your particular issue or problem you
should contact a professional cooperative attorney.