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Senior Housing Investing: Senior Housing Exemption

What if all the real estate laws made an exemption to ensure your success when investing in senior housing?

Senior housing exemptions are unique, and this is why so many residential assisted living homeowners are succeeding in the industry nationwide.

Based on the standard operating fair housing laws, tenants cannot be discriminated against based on gender, age, race, religion, familial status, or virtually any other demographic.

These non-discriminatory exemptions include:

  • English proficiency
  • Disabilities
  • Mental illness
  • Criminal background
  • Age

As a result, property owners cannot redirect potential tenants to different locations based on best fit. Property owners cannot market their rentals to groups based on gender, age or otherwise.

As a result, landlords often feel restrained, especially those interested in investing in senior housing. However, all the rules change when owners of senior housing qualify for senior housing exemptions.


The Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA), provides a senior housing exemption that excuses landlords from adhering to certain parts of the Fair Housing Act. This exemption only applies to qualifying communities.

The 1995 exemption was written to help alleviate the shortage in senior housing, specifically for accessible properties.

When assisted living home qualifies for the senior housing exemption, owners and operators can legally market their business based on age and familial status.

In this case, it is not considered discrimination; instead, it is fair housing for seniors.


Based on the guidelines of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), residential assisted living homeowners must own a “housing community.” This simply means “any dwelling or group of dwelling units governed by a common set of rules, regulations, or restrictions.”

After meeting this initial qualification, there are two types of senior housing exemptions you might be eligible for attain:

  • 62 and Older Exemption: All occupants of the community’s units must be 62 or older. The property must be solely intended to serve tenants of this age.
  • 55 and older Exemption: At least one person 55 or older must live in 80% or more of the units. You also must publish and adhere to policies and procedures that demonstrate an intent to provide housing for persons 55 years or older.


It’s important to remember that qualifying for the senior housing exemption doesn’t exempt owners and investors from other tenets of the Fair Housing Act.

Under no circumstances, you cannot discriminate against protected classes, such as race, color, gender, religion, or national origin. The screening processes remain the same in this regard.

In addition, each state has different housing protection laws, and some are far more stringent than others.

It’s important to consider these state-based laws prior to investing – location matters for many reasons.

Location Is Key

You do not have to live where you own, invest or operate your assisted living home. Based on research conducted by U.S. News and World Report the top 10 senior housing markets to consider are:

  1. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  2. El Paso, Texas
  3. Allentown, Pennsylvania
  4. Orlando, Florida
  5. Chattanooga, Tennessee
  6. Portland, Oregon
  7. Melbourne, Florida
  8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  9. Tampa, Florida
  10. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Wherever you buy, make sure your property falls in line with HOPA requirements.


Investors, owners and operators do not need to go it alone – experts at the Residential Assisted Living Academy will teach you everything you need to know from A-Z. In addition to understanding how the exemptions work, there’s so much more to learn about senior housing in order for your business to be a success.

Get in touch with the Residential Assisted Living Academy today to get started. So often, you only get one chance to do this right.

Your first purchase will doubtless be a memorable one – make it a good memory by allowing experts in the industry to guide you. It should be one filled with excitement, some nervousness, and great expectation.

Simply click to register for the next 3-day course today.

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Gene Guarino


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