What are the documentation requirements for HOPA compliance?

The Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA) stands as a vital piece of legislation, offering guidelines for age-restricted housing communities in the United States. Designed to facilitate housing options for older individuals, HOPA necessitates specific documentation to ensure compliance with its regulations.

Let’s delve into the crucial documentation requirements for HOPA compliance across various stakeholders involved in these communities.

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Documentation Requirements for HOPA Compliance:

Here is a comprehensive list of the documentation requirements for HOPA compliance for property owners and managers, residents, regulatory bodies, staff, etc.

Documentation for Managers and Property Owners:

  1. Age Verification Documents
    1. Managers must collect and retain documentation verifying the age of residents—examples: Valid government-issued IDs such as driver’s licenses, passports, or birth certificates.
    2. Ensure age verification documents are up-to-date and accurately reflect the residents’ ages. Acceptable forms of identification should be clearly outlined in the community’s policies.
  1. Occupancy Standards Documentation:
    1. Defining occupancy standards is essential to specify the percentage of units for individuals meeting age requirements (55 and over, 62 and over).
    2. Define the specific criteria for age-related occupancy and document these standards in the community’s bylaws or regulations. Clarify the minimum age requirement and the percentage of units designated for qualified individuals.
  1. Lease or Rental Agreements: Ensure that the age restrictions and occupancy requirements are clearly stated in lease or rental agreements. It is essential to emphasize in these documents that at least one resident must be 55 years or older per unit.
  1. Surveys, Affidavits, and Certification: It is essential for compliance to have reliable surveys, affidavits, or certifications from residents attesting at least one is 55 or older. A government-issued document and a signed certification are essential for verifying an individual’s age.
  1. Certification of Compliance: Some cases may require filing a certification of compliance with HOPA regulations to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
  1. Policy Publication and Intent to Comply Documentation: It is important to have documentation reflecting the community’s policies, procedures, and intent to operate as housing for individuals aged 55 or older is crucial. As part of HOPA compliance, the community may adopt rules, and use a language showcasing that they welcome older people with the manuals, advertising materials, and written provisions in its governing documents.
  1. Regular Verification Procedures: As a manager, you must establish regular age verification procedures, including re-verifying ages every two years to ensure compliance with HOPA. The age of occupants must be documented using reliable methods and instruments like ID cards, birth certificates, etc.
  1. Sales and Marketing Materials: There must be a clear representation of the community’s features, amenities, and intended demographic in all marketing materials, brochures, and conversations. To avoid misrepresentation and legal issues, these materials should reflect the community’s age-restricted status.
  1. Governing Documents Addressing Exceptions and Diverse Community Needs: While ensuring compliance with HOPA requirements, governing documents should anticipate and address exceptions such as caregivers or college-age children living with older residents.

Documentation for Residents:

  1. Age Verification Documents: Residents need to provide necessary documentation (IDs, etc.) to verify their age for eligibility in age-restricted communities.
  2. Lease Agreements: 
    1. Residents should review and sign lease agreements that explicitly mention age restrictions and HOPA compliance.
    2. Encourage residents to thoroughly review lease agreements before signing. Host informational sessions or provide written guidance to ensure residents understand the community’s rules and regulations.

Documentation for Regulatory Authorities (HUD, etc.):

  1. Certification and Compliance Records: Regulatory bodies collect and review certification of compliance documents filed by property owners/managers to ensure community adherence to HOPA regulations.
  1. Audits and Inspections: Periodic audits or inspections are conducted to ensure compliance. These assessments document findings and necessary follow-up actions.

Conclusion:

Adherence to HOPA regulations is pivotal for age-restricted housing communities. Proper documentation, encompassing age verification, occupancy standards, lease agreements, and certifications of compliance, among others, is fundamental. These documents support compliance efforts and ensure these communities operate lawfully, providing suitable housing options for older individuals.

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