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November 18, 2016 |

Boston Landlord Tenant Lawyer Explains When Children Can be Prohibited From Rental Units

The Fair Housing Act protects families against housing discrimination based on many factors, including ensuring that children cannot be prohibited from living in rental properties. Still, large numbers of baby boomers have residential needs as well — and many prefer to live in adults-only communities.

To help meet the needs of older adults, the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA) creates an exception to the Fair Housing Act's familial status requirements. Landlords can now restrict rental to families with children as long as they meet strict HOPA provisions.

HOPA Creates Well-Defined Exceptions to Fair Housing Act Regulations

Prior to HOPA, senior housing was generally defined as those that provided substantial services and facilities to meet the needs of older residents. HOPA broadened that definition, including the following basic requirements:

  • Age-restricted buildings pertain to residents who are age 55 or older, and they operate under a published set of policies and procedures that show the intent to provide age-restricted housing.
  • At least one resident of qualifying age must reside within a minimum of 80 percent of all units.
  • When only one person meets the age requirements in a unit and that person leaves or dies, other residents within the unit can only remain based on pre-defined hardship situations, and only if at least 80 percent of all units continue to meet the age requirements.
  • As long as the building meets the 80 percent requirement and qualifies as an age-restricted building, landlords can define the ability of children to spend time on the premises, particularly when that time involves overnight visits.
  • Landlords or property owners are expected to establish and follow a strict process for monitoring the age of residents.

Of course, issues pertaining to people's homes cannot always be broken down into a few well-defined rules.

Circumstances Are Not Always Clear-Cut

Particularly when it applies to buildings that have had long-term renters, making the change to an age-restricted facility can reveal any number of questions and concerns. Do tenants who do not meet the age requirements have to move out within a specific timeline that may predate the lease? Or, what happens when qualifying residents have legal responsibility for a 17-year old who also provides needed services for the seniors?

Before instituting an age-restricted facility, landlords or property owners should consult with an experienced attorney who understands the law — and knows how and when to explore alternative solutions. Similarly, tenants facing the loss of their residence should seek legal advice to learn if they have any options for extending their residency, and, if not, how much time they have to find alternate housing based on legal deadlines.

The Law Offices of Shaun A. Hannafin can help parties on both sides of rental agreements make a smooth transition. Call us at (617) 848-4572 to learn more about your options.

Posted in Landlord-Tenant Information

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