Even us road veterans are constantly learning new things. Today, I wanted to share with you something that we were never clear on and had to dig deeper to understand.
I want to be very upfront here… I’m not posting this to make an argument if this is right or wrong, or to start a political debate (and comments as such will be moderated).
This is to clarify how this applies to us RVers under 55.
Even having lived in Florida for much of my pre-nomadic adult life, and surrounded by 55+ and Adult Only neighborhoods – I honestly never quite understood how they got away with what I perceived to be age discrimination.
In the RVing lifestyle, you’ll also encounter RV Parks that are designated as 55+, especially in popular retirement and snowbird areas.
Over the years, the rumor we frequently heard propagated over the interwebs was that while a park could be designated as 55+, that under fair housing laws they still had to allow up to a certain percentage of visitors/residents be under 55.
Which we assumed to mean if we ever needed to stay at such a park due to location or circumstance we’d have no problems. In our 10 years on the road, we have stayed in an occasional 55+ park.
We actually rather enjoy them – we’ve met some amazing fun active people, enjoyed a relaxing atmosphere and love the vibe of living in a community. And gotta admit, an adult-only park would be a nice break after a few weeks of spring break in public parks with young families & youth groups on vacation being our neighbors.
For our upcoming weeklong stay in Spring Hill to visit Chris’ parents, we decided to try Holiday Springs RV Resort first. A location we had stayed at before without question or problem, even though they clearly advertise themselves as a 55+ park. This park is the closest and most convenient to where his folks winter.
We were shocked when they asked if we were over 55, and were denied for being too young.
The park manager told us that it came down from corporate to no longer allow anyone in under 55. Period. No exceptions.
We questioned them if they had already met their percentage quota, and they said that did indeed have a few living in the park who were younger. But not the full allowance.
So why were we being denied? This didn’t gel with what we thought we understood.
So we took it to the Xscaper’s group and Google to learn more.
Video Version of this Story:
Just what is it that allows 55+ parks to exist, and what is the rule??
The ‘Housing for Older Persons’ (HOPA) is an official HUD (U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) exemption. It supplements the Fair Housing Act originally designed to protect residents from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap or familial status.
And that exemption specifically applies to the familial status part.
The “Housing for Older Persons” Exemption: 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.
From the HUD Article on Housing for Older Persons
But, what is the rule for allowing those under 55? Do they have to let us youngsters in too?
Nope. We were completely wrong about our understanding.
Here’s the qualification that parks have to abide by that applies here:
“At least 80 percent of the units must have at least one occupant who is 55 years of age or older”
There is no rule that says these parks HAVE to allow up to 20% under 55 (which was the urban legend we had understood).
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. These parks MAY allow up to 20% of their residents to be under 55 before they lose their HOPA designation. And many parks do allow younger folks, especially those traveling without kids or folks just staying a few nights.
But if they go over that threshold, they risk losing their federal designation. At the state level, there may be other incentives beyond the designation that they risk losing too. They need to keep the balance, or make hard lined rules to simplify their required age verification reporting.
Which means they most certainly can legally deny a reservation from youngsters like us. It’s completely at their discretion.
Oh well, just one more perk to look forward to in the future.
Ironically, our 1961 vintage bus conversion turns 55 later this year. Next time we get questioned, we’ll have to ask if the bus qualifies as the 55+ occupant in our household! It’s at least worth a laugh. But with our luck, we’d probably run into a strict enforcement an RV age rule and be denied for that.