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Retirement Communities and Leasing: FHA Compliance, Age Verification, Reasonable Accommodations

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will provide real estate counsel with guidance on how to advise all the stakeholders in the development and management of retirement communities on best practices for developing enforceable restrictive covenants, age verification, and accommodation policies for the growing number of senior housing facilities as defined by the Fair Housing Act (FHA).


Congress amended the FHA to provide exemptions for retirement communities from discrimination claims by tenants. Under the exemption, a landlord intending to operate as housing for older persons is legally permitted to discriminate against tenants based on age and familial status if: (1) at least one person age 55 or older occupies 80 percent of the dwelling or (2) the housing community rents exclusively to persons age 62 or older.

Periodic age verification is a critical aspect of meeting the requirements for an age-55+ community. A landlord must periodically verify the ages of its residents or lose its age restrictive exemption. Failing to do so could subject the landlord to lawsuits for discrimination by families and state and federal agencies. If a landlord is concerned about misrepresentations as to age, the landlord may require residents to provide affidavits signed under oath and penalty of perjury. Third-party age verification is acceptable if that statement is under oath and penalty of perjury.

The FHA prohibits discrimination in renting or selling a dwelling based on a disability of the buyer, renter, or a person residing with the buyer or renter. Discrimination includes a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. Disability laws and fair housing laws must work in conjunction with each other, which is not always an easy reconciliation.

Evaluating requests for reasonable accommodations can challenge landlords; the landlord must judge each application individually, as well as what constitutes "reasonable accommodation." The landlord must grant the accommodation so long as a requested accommodation would not fundamentally alter the nature of a program or cause undue burdens on the landlord.

Listen as our authoritative panel addresses the issues that arise in communities developed for residents aged 55+ and compliance with FHA and related laws that impact this protected group. Hear best practices on development and management of such senior communities.



  1. Retirement communities and rental senior housing
    1. Definition under FHA
    2. Developing restrictive covenants
  2. FHA compliance
    1. Age verification
    2. Reasonable accommodation of seniors with disabilities
    3. Assistance animals
    4. Private assistants/caregivers
  3. Good faith defenses to civil discrimination claims
    1. Direct threat
    2. Unreasonable accommodation requests
    3. Care facilities


The panel will review these and other relevant issues:

  • What provisions does the FHA create regarding housing for residents aged 55+?
  • How can a landlord verify age and what restrictions on cohabitants can be placed on senior communities?
  • How does a retirement community reconcile conflicts between disability laws and fair housing provisions?
  • How can landlords and property developers mitigate liability in claims brought for discrimination related to senior communities?


Gordon, Paul
Paul A. Gordon

Hanson Bridgett

Mr. Gordon has worked with seniors housing and care providers for over 40 years. He is the author of the...  |  Read More

Murer, Matthew
Matthew J. Murer


Mr. Murer serves as Department Chair for the firm's national health care practice, and has worked hard to build a...  |  Read More

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