4 Reasons Why Finding Rental Homes in 55+ Communities is So Damn Difficult!

by Bill Ness on October 28, 2011

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Retirees who search online for a rental property in a 55+ community will quickly find that there are no resources specifically designed to help them.

Around this time each year, 55Places.com receives many inquiries from retirees who are planning to winter in a popular retirement destination and would like to rent a home in a 55+ community. Based on our experience — and the pleading tone of these inquiries — we know that finding an ideal rental home is not an easy task.

If you’ve ever wondered why finding a short term rental in an active adult community is practically impossible, we have a few ideas:

1. Community Restrictions

When homebuyers choose to move into an active adult development, they buy into the community (and its amenities) as much as they are choosing an individual home. To minimize disruptions by frequently changing tenants, the bylaws in many 55+ communities prevent homeowners from renting their properties out on a short term basis. These rules may limit the percentage of homes within a community which can be rented out at any one time. They may further limit homeowners by enforcing minimal rental agreements, such as terms which must last at least three or even six months.

2. Supply and Demand

Typically, retirees look for homes to rent during an area’s peak season, such as January through April. Unfortunately for searching renters, this is also the time when active adult homeowners plan to stay home and enjoy their own communities. This means that the demand for rental homes is likely to outpace the supply of available properties. While there may be some homeowners who live elsewhere and rent their property, we’ve found that most retirees who purchase a home in an active adult community do plan to live in it themselves.

3. Low Realtor Commissions

It may seem logical that Realtors would be the best choice for finding an available rental property in an active adult community. They know the local real estate market and are adept at matching people with their desired homes. However, Realtors work on commission and the large time commitment of working with renters combined with small amount that they make from lining up a rental arrangement may not be financially worthwhile. Their time is often better spent on helping buyers and sellers, where the commissions are more lucrative.

4. Lack of Rental Resources

Retirees who search online for a rental property in a 55+ community will quickly find that there are no resources specifically designed to help them. Short-term vacation rentals can be found through many different websites. A few good ones to try include: SnowbirdCondo.com, Craigslist.org and VRBO.com. However, these resources do not let users limit their search to only rental properties found in active adult communities.

While most of the 55Places.com agents do not assist with arranging rentals, we can tell you that your best bet is to start your search early. There are great rental properties out there, it just may take a little legwork to find them.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Pearson October 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm

This is one of the largest problems for almost every senior age restricted community and the potential renters/buyers out there. I have repeatedly urged those looking to try before they buy. The reality is for anyone looking for less than a 3 month rental, it is near on impossible to find.

What is fascinating is this: The original Sun City outside Phoenix Az may never have succeeded without the Play and Stay. The challenges of overcoming the stereotyping associated with them only changed when people visited the community and saw just what a great way to live it was.

Funny thing is, it’s still that way to day. Other than communities that are still being marketed by the builder, there just aren’t many options available for short term rentals. That is, in my humble opinion, one of the biggest problems any active age restricted communitiy faces.

Most communities have little chance of changing that. In Sun City we have the good fortune of being self-governed. Rather than gnashing my teetth and whining, i ran for our Rec Centers board (all volunteer) and will be actively trying to reimplement the Play and Stay package in Sun City. We have ample resources to direct monies (we just paid off a new 18.2 million dollar rec center that will open next month) and consequently looking at buying rental properties for short term stays is at the very least feasible.

Good luck in finding those rentals. I know from experience it’s not easy. The good news is; the closer we get to the winter rental season, those that haven’t secured 5 or 6 month renters start to become more flexible in duration.

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Barbara December 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Mr. Pearson,
I agree with your comment – “Play and Stay” sounds like an excellent way to determine if the community is a good match without making a long-term commitment ($$$) upfront.

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Goldie January 19, 2013 at 10:05 am

@Mr. Pearson…Del Webb was an incredible visionary!

Vineyards Naples October 29, 2011 at 8:37 am

Hello,

This is a great blog….I have clients coming in next week, that if it works out and they like the Vineyards, I will for sure show your listings.

Regards,

Dimitri Schwarz

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Toni Randall November 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm

In the state of Florida (and perhaps elsewhere), there is a 15% transient housing tax that must be collected from the tenant for anything under a seven month lease. I have this problem constantly in my age-restricted communities. I will definitely work with folks to find a rental when I’m sure there’s a change for a sale in the future. In our area, the usual commission for a rental is 10% of the first month’s rent – a few tanks of gas.

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Judy Disney-DiFranco November 3, 2011 at 7:06 am

Living in a 55+ community I am glad there are restrictions in place for rentals. Where I live it is 6 months min. I don’t want to live next door to a motel. I think the biggest problem in Florida is people think of the condos in Orlando (theme park central) or the beach. There you can rent a condo for a week. I don’t think you find many people who “live” in those condos.

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Goldie January 17, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Judy…are you related to Walt…:)

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Joe O'Connor March 10, 2012 at 10:57 am

I’m thinking of buying a condo in a 55+ community in Florida. Regarding the rental restrictions — what kind of restrictions are there regarding the owner of the unit allowing family/relatives to stay there without the owner present? Thank you.

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oliver kelly smith August 10, 2012 at 11:11 am

Why do you not have listings and prices?

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Realirish December 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm

My husband and I are seriously considering buying in the general Tampa Bay area for when we retire. In the meantime, we’d have to rent it out since we’re still a few years away. We have found that many of the 55+ communities make it difficult to rent short-term, and some will not allow rentals at all. We’d love to buy while price and interest rates are low, but couldn’t afford to leave it sit for the once or twice a year we could make a short visit. So, instead of putting our money into a community and becoming homeowners, we’re staying put.

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Lois Silverstein April 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I live in an over 55 community in Boynton Beach, FL but am ready relocate to New Hampshire or Northern Mass. I own an apartment condo and would like to rent in an over 55 community for several months up to a year before moving to an independent living facility. I am unfamiliar with New England and feel that if I rent before I “buy in” it would give me the opportunity to learn about the areas and also if living in the north again would be physically comfortable.

My daughter lives in Manchester, NH and I want to move to be near my children before a catastrophy strikes when decisions have to be made in haste and under stressful conditions. The move sooner would alleviate later problems.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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BnB February 26, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Lois, we live in South Down Shores on Lake Winnepesaukee in Laconia. There are seasonal rentals available in many of our condo/ villa neighborhoods. We own a house in our little street of 6 homes, but each neighborhood is different. There are tennis courts, beaches on the lake, picnic areas, boat docks a nod many summer planned activities here. We love it! Check it out.

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richard April 26, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Hi – My wife and I and our little shih-tzu are actively searching for a 6 month rental in Florida. It definitely has been a challenge. We’ve checked Craigslist, internet sites, newspaper ads, etc. So we came to Florida and are here now and I assured my wife that we would find one. We don’t know the exact area but we want it to be clean, pet friendly and reasonable; no more than $1200/month. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks….Rich

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Goldie April 30, 2013 at 9:18 am

What about renting a timeshare?
http://www.sellmytimesharenow.com/

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Jill Austin October 31, 2013 at 10:13 am

Over 55 and looking for a gated active life-style community for a LONG-TERM rental house, unfurnished. I wish to stay, am an excellent permanent renter (no pets, no kids, NS ND).Wish to be along the Atlantic coast in Florida, preferably the Vero Beach area or anything well So. of Jacksonville and Daytona. It is not easy to navigate the internet for this. How do I go about it? J.A.

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rob November 7, 2013 at 9:43 am

I am looking to rent in the Boynton Beach area Jan, Feb< Mar, 2014, preferably in a 55 & older community. Anything out there?

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Roger December 9, 2013 at 7:12 pm

We are interested in renting on a long term basis (several years). Even then we are finding adult communities are not receptive. If anyone can provide communities in the south that allow long term rentals, let us know.
Thank you

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Jan Kearton December 19, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I have been living in Mexico, and there is much to enjoy here. However, when my husband died I find it difficult to remain here. House is on the market to sell.
I would like a long term rental in the western part of the United States. I am an American citizen

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Barbara April 30, 2014 at 10:44 am

Jan…please be more specific. Which state would you like to live?

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Debra Mitchell January 20, 2014 at 7:45 pm

I’m interested in finding an accessible duplex, guest-house rental near, or between lake L. A and Orange County. I’ve lived with my younger daughter for nearly a year on SSI of $721/mo, which is nearly nothing to live on. I’ve had spinal disabilities, surgeries after surgeries to keep walking, and carpel tunnel surgeries, the last one’s Nov 2013. It’s so difficult finding any-thing with my income, and family don’t want me living with them. They love their own privacy. I’ve lived in government subsidized for my income, and they were all roach infested, bedbugs eating tenant skin so bad to have to be admitted in the hospital, some had mice, and nets. So what is really in the warmer CA areas, that some-one can suggest. I lived in a duplex for nearly a year before going back to my daughter’s, and the landlord raised the rent to where allot of people had to move-out, everything I have is in storage in CA, and the cost alone now nearly a year. My neighbor was infested with cats, and I’m chronically allergic to them, so I broke out in hives, infections, and going several times to the hospital. I need some suggestions.

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Steve February 21, 2014 at 1:32 pm

So what is the average monthly lot or community charges for an over 55 community. There are many reasonably priced homes in many of the 55+ communities but no info. on any community charges or lot rental info.

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pam February 22, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Looking to move to florida. Am 56 year old female.
On disability and can’t afford high ren rt. Does any
body know any decent hud places or maybe somebody
Needing a light housekeeper and cook in exchange
For some rent.

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Cathy Lecklikner February 23, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Looking for 2015 jam February or March rental maybe golf or 45 community. That is dog friendly. Thanks

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Frank L. February 24, 2014 at 1:49 am

I am looking for 55+ communities in California where you own the land. So many have in addition to HOA fees a lease fee that surpasses HOA fees. As someone on a fixed income who desires to pay cash for a property,I just want the HOA fees and property taxes of course. Not a lease land fee. Can you help and perhaps name a few?

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Barbara April 30, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Frank…what is your price range?

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Barbara April 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Where do you want to live in California? Beach, mountains, desert?
Please be more specific about area.

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Ellen K. February 25, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Where can one find a reasonably priced 3 month winter rental in an area close to Las Vegas, Nevada for a 75 year old woman/

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Barbara April 30, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Ellen…how close do you want to be?

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Ann March 27, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Does anyone know if there are any of the Florida 55+ communities that are receptive to singles? I’m planning to move there in the next year or so and would like to narrow my search. Thanks!

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Kathy or Bill Tetzlaff April 30, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Consider Oak run in Ocala, or The Villages, many people & many singles. We are selling our Ocala pool home on golf course to move closer to our son in Chicago.

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annmarie hayden April 23, 2014 at 4:58 pm

RECENTLY RETIRED, WIDOW LOOKING FOR 55+ IN BURKE,VA
YES, YOU ARE CORRECT TO RENT FIRST THEN DIVE INTO SOMETHING PERMANENT. SO LET ME SEE WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER. THANKS

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Mich April 29, 2014 at 10:36 am

Recently widowed want to move to South east Florida but need to rent for at least
a year to see if I like living year round in Florida if any one has a place to rent please contact

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Barbara April 30, 2014 at 10:41 am

Hi Mitch…my condolences to you on the loss of your wife.

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joan July 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm

I just called a Sun City # I recieved,I was hung up by someone very rude,he never even let me finish what I was about to say.Sun City? I don;t think so.

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