What Are the Rules About Children in a 55+ Community?

An enjoyable retirement includes spending time with your children, grandchildren, and other loved ones—so what regulations do 55+ communities have in regards to children?

The primary appeal of a 55+ community is obvious. The ability to spend your retirement years with neighbors of comparable age is something people have sought for generations. Residents in active adult communities often prefer sharing their neighborhoods with people who have similar interests, ambitions, and routines. (The relative peace and quiet aren’t so bad either.)

Residents of 55+ communities also, for obvious reasons, don’t place such a high priority on top-notch schools and municipal services geared towards younger people, which can lead to substantial tax savings and allow them to stretch their retirement dollar further.

However, there are plenty of circumstances in which you might have children or grandchildren visiting, either for a short weekend stay or sometimes longer periods of time. There’s no shortage of new articles describing changing cultural norms in which adult children live with their parents for periods of time after major life-changes such as career shifts or during job searches. When considering buying a home in an active adult community, it’s important to know what questions to ask to ensure you’re in compliance with both the regulations and the spirit of the community.


Housing policy in the United States is primarily governed by the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which sets out guidelines to help ensure homebuyers and renters don’t suffer discrimination based on a number of protected statuses like race, religion, national origin, or disability. One notable exception to this is age.

The Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA) amended the Fair Housing Act to carve out guidelines for 55+ communities, removing requirements for facilities and services typically associated with those of advanced age and putting the “active” in active adult communities.

The 80/20 Rule

HOPA established what’s often referred to as the “80/20 Rule”. HOPA allows for communities to establish age-restrictions if one of two conditions are met: all residents are over the age of 62 or, much more commonly, at least 80% of residents are over the age of 55. This doesn’t, however, require that the remaining 20% of residents be under the age of 55. Instead, it gives communities and their governing bodies some “wiggle room” to allow for certain exemptions that don’t go against the spirit of an active adult community.

A practical example of the function of this rule involves spouses who are different ages. Let’s say there’s a married couple living in a 55+ community where one is 59 and another is 53.  If the older spouse were to suddenly pass away, the younger spouse would be able to continue living in their home so long as 80% of the community’s residents are over the age of 55, an easily crossed threshold in the vast majority of 55+ communities. In effect, this rule allows for the community to keep its 55+ status while sensibly permitting an under-55 resident to live there.


Things can become a bit more complicated when looking into the rules governing children visiting or staying at your home in an active adult community. Every active adult community is unique, not only in terms of the amenities they offer but also when it comes to the regulations governing who can stay with you and how long they can. In almost all cases, these rules are to preserve a certain feel to the community and not to be onerous or burdensome. In short, no one is saying you’re grandkids can’t come for a visit.

The most common restrictions regulated by the homeowners association (HOA) concern the duration of younger people’s visits. Some rules limit visits to a few weeks while other communities are okay with months-long visits. This information should be covered in documents you receive from the HOA, but you should also be sure to ask your real estate agent about these rules when considering a home.

Some communities, especially gated ones, ask that guests register themselves and/or their vehicles so its best to be mindful of these requirements. Additionally, there are also commonly separate regulations involving the use of amenities by guests. Be sure you’re up to date with these rules especially before promising a visit to the pool with the grandchildren only to find out you’ve arrived at the pool complex during adult-swim hours.

Some communities adopt a more relaxed attitude towards age restrictions, allowing for residents 18+ to live in the community so long as one resident is over the age of 55. This can allow for live-in care-givers or instances in which a resident is caring for an adult child with a disability. While these communities are somewhat uncommon, they’re out there, and they’re generally similar to other 55+ communities. If you prefer a community of predominately residents over 55, your real estate agent should be able to guide you to such a place.

Other Examples

There are a growing number of communities that follow the conventions of age-restricted communities but do not peg their age restriction at 55 or older. There are some communities that look very much like 55+ communities but allow for homebuyers 45 and up, for example. These communities provide a similar feel to active adult communities but typically have more lax policies when it comes to children visiting or living with their parents. As mentioned earlier, there are also communities that are exclusively 62+ in which residents will be overwhelming over that age and children as residents are extremely uncommon.

The good news in all of this is that these rules are typically very clear and easy for residents to follow. Just about every HOA board understands that part of an enjoyable retirement is spending time with your children, grandchildren, and other loved ones. Rules are established not to make visits difficult but instead to ensure all residents are able to enjoy the lifestyle they expect from their active adult community.

Can you spot the $207,744 difference between these identical homes?

Financing is the difference!

Get the details in The 62+ Loan Homebuyers Guide.

55places Mortgage is a joint venture between Mutual of Omaha Mortgage and 55places.com.
Details here.

Share this post:

We're here to help! (800) 928-2055

Call us to speak with a customer service representative.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get Weekly Updates

I agree that 55places and its affiliates, partner providers or agents may call, text, or email me about my inquiry, which may be made with automated means. I understand that my consent is not a prerequisite for buying a property. I may revoke my consent at any time by contacting [email protected] Message/data rates may apply. I also agree to 55places.com’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

The Best Places to Snowbird in 2021

We’ve gathered 25 of the best places for snowbirds, including cities in Florida, Arizona, California, Texas, South Carolina, and Nevada. For each entry, we’ve also provided a list of recommended 55+ communities in the area. If you’re ready to find your own winter retreat this season, here are some of the best places to consider.

The entrance sign at the Polo Club at Mountain Island Lake, a 55+ community in Charlotte, North Carolina

The Best Small Active Adult Communities in Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina is a top retirement destination for adults 55+. With 72 active adult communities in the area, there’s a lot to choose from and think about. If you’re considering a move to Charlotte and already know you’re looking for a small community in size but big on options, then we’ve got you covered.

Cresswind Charlotte is a 55+ community near Charlotte, North Carolina

The Best Communities for Downsizing in Charlotte, North Carolina

A smaller home has less space to clean and maintain–inside and out. They also typically come with a smaller, more affordable price tag. Fortunately for the 55+ crowd looking to downsize in the Charlotte area, there are several active adult communities that offer smaller floor plans at affordable price points.

A sunny day at Lake Walk Freedom Homes in Mooresville, North Carolina

55+ Communities Near Lakes in the Charlotte Area

Dreaming of spending your retirement on the water, boating, fishing, swimming, or just relaxing, soaking up the sun every day? Then, Charlotte, North Carolina should be on your radar.

The clubhouse at Village at Deaton Creek in Hoschton, Georgia

The Best Active Adult Communities in the Atlanta Area

The state of Georgia is a popular destination for 55+ active adults, and the Atlanta area is one of its hottest places to relocate. The city offers fine restaurants, diverse shopping opportunities, and impressive cultural attractions, as well as its own rich history and distinctive southern charm. If you are considering living near Atlanta, you’ll want to take a look at six of the area’s most popular active adult communities.

A happy group of elderly people living in a 55+ community meet the age requirements.

What Are the Age Requirements for a 55+ Community?

For many, the answer to “What are the age requirements for a 55+ community?” may seem obvious. You have to be 55 or older, right? No, that’s not always the case. In fact, there are many scenarios where there’s only one resident who is 55 or older. Also, there are rare cases when no residents is 55 or older. 

An older adult takes a continuing education course offered in his 55+ community.

Never Stop Learning: Continuing Education Programs in 55+ Communities

Many people look forward to retirement because they can finally stop focusing on work and start focusing on doing more of what they enjoy. Do you want to learn a new language, play an instrument, or try making a new craft? There are many benefits that learning something new can provide.

About 55places

We’re changing the way people 55 and older are searching for their perfect next place. With a national network of hand-selected real estate experts, plus comprehensive information, unbiased content, and on-the-go insight about thousands of communities across the country, we’re a trusted resource paving the way from here to home. Whether you’re interested in a low-maintenance single-level residence, an active lifestyle or age-qualified community, an intimate enclave, or anything in between, we can help you make your next move the best one yet.

Scroll to Top