Key HOPA Requirements and Regulations that Fair Housing Managers Need to Know

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The world of housing can be intricate, especially when it comes to complying with regulations designed to ensure fairness and accessibility. The Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) is a crucial set of regulations that directly impact fair housing managers and their operations.

Understanding the nuances of HOPA is essential for maintaining compliance and providing equal housing opportunities.

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Let’s delve into the key HOPA requirements and regulations that fair housing managers need to know.

What is HOPA (Housing for Older Persons Act)?

The Housing for Older Persons Act, enacted in 1995, amended the Fair Housing Act to create exemptions for certain housing intended for older persons. 

HOPA allows communities to establish “55 and older” housing, providing an exception to the prohibition of discrimination based on familial status.

However, to qualify for this exemption, communities must meet specific criteria outlined in the Act.

The Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) outlines specific criteria that housing communities must meet to qualify for exemptions based on age. These criteria include:

  • 55-and-Over Communities: To qualify under this category, at least 80% of the occupied units within the housing community must be occupied by at least one person who is 55 years of age or older. Additionally, the community must have policies and procedures in place that demonstrate an intent to house older persons. This intent may be reflected in marketing materials, lease agreements, and other documentation that highlight the community’s focus on catering to older residents.
  • 62-and-Over Communities: Alternatively, housing communities may qualify for exemptions if all residents within the community are 62 years of age or older. Unlike the 55-and-over communities, which allow for a portion of residents to be under the age of 55, the 62-and-over communities require that every resident meets the age threshold of 62 or older.

These criteria are designed to ensure that housing communities seeking exemptions under HOPA are genuinely catering to the housing needs of older individuals.

 HOPA Requirements and Regulations 

  • 80/20 Rule:
    • 80% Rule: This is the key requirement. At least 80% of the occupied units in the community must have at least one resident who is 55 years of age or older. This ensures a majority of residents are within the targeted age group.
    • 20% Rule: This acts as a buffer zone. While the community strives to maintain an 80% occupancy by residents 55+, the remaining 20% allows for flexibility in situations like:
      • A younger spouse living with a qualified resident (over 55).
      • A resident turns 54 and needs to remain in the community.

The purpose of the 20% is to allow some exceptions without compromising the overall 55+ focus of the community.

  • Community Policies and Facilities: The community must have policies that demonstrate an intent to provide housing for older individuals. Facilities, amenities, and services offered should align with the needs of older residents.

Although HOPA provides exemptions for age-based housing communities, these communities are still required to comply with other provisions of the Fair Housing Act, including those related to race, color, religion, sex, disability, and national origin. Additionally, HOPA prohibits discrimination against individuals under 55 years of age in certain circumstances, such as when a resident’s spouse or caregiver is under 55. HOPA balances older adults’ housing needs with protections against discrimination based on their familial status.

The Exemption and Its Limitations

The exemption under HOPA allows for the creation of communities designed for older individuals. However, it’s essential to note that this exemption has limitations:

  • Familial Status Exemption: While HOPA provides an exemption for age-related discrimination, it does not exempt housing providers from discrimination based on other protected classes, such as race, gender, religion, or disability.
  • Non-Exempt Areas: Certain areas might be exempt from HOPA, such as senior housing in which the 55 and older rule does not apply. It’s crucial for fair housing managers to understand the nuances of their specific locations and jurisdictions.

Compliance and Legal Responsibilities

Fair housing managers must navigate the regulatory landscape carefully to ensure compliance with HOPA. This involves:

  • Regular Audits and Documentation: Conducting regular audits and maintaining accurate documentation of age verification processes and compliance efforts.
  • Staying Updated: Keeping abreast of any amendments or updates to HOPA regulations and ensuring all policies and practices align accordingly.
  • Legal Consultation: Consulting legal experts well-versed in fair housing laws to ensure ongoing compliance and to address any potential issues promptly.


Navigating the Housing for Older Persons Act is essential for fair housing managers to uphold the principles of equal housing opportunities while meeting the unique needs of older individuals. 

Comprehending the complexities of HOPA document requirements, ensuring compliance, and staying updated with evolving regulations are crucial for maintaining a fair and inclusive housing environment.

Understanding HOPA is not just about compliance; it’s about fostering communities that cater to the diverse needs of residents while upholding fairness and accessibility in housing for all. 

Explore our website and check out the free webinars on HOPA and related topics.

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