What is the age for "senior" apartments?

Senior age-restricted apartments are usually 55 or 62+ and follow HUD regulations which allow for such "age discrimination." If restrictions are 55+, at least one person in the apartment must be at least 55 and the apartment community must have no more than 20% of all residents under the age of 55. If they are 62+, then ALL residents must be at least 62.

Exceptions are made by HUD regulations for renters who are under the minimum age if they are disabled.

Who are renters?

There are those among the senior rental population who have been renters through their most or all of their adult life. Other renters have sold a home of many years and moved to an apartment. Sometimes a life occurrence forces the shift from homeowner to renter:

  • A divorce and the need to divide the equity.
  • The financial inability to continue making payments and keeping up the property.
  • Death or relocation of friends and relatives and the desire to relocate to an area where there will again be an emotional or social support-network.
  • Selling a home to free up equity that can be invested to generate interest and/or dividend income.
  • Desire to be free from home and garden maintenance.
  • Freedom to travel more without the worry of what is happening to the property back home.

Interesting facts about seniors and renting:

  • If you combine the number of people who have always rented with those who sell homes to become renters, 23% of 65+ Americans are renters.
  • AARP research found that 43% of seniors moving to an apartment complex preferred age-restricted apartment buildings over age-integrated ones.
  • The majority of senior apartment renters do not move further than 5-10 miles from their former home or apartment unless relocating to be closer to relatives.

Thank you for your answer to my age restriction question on senior communities. It was complete and clear!

from Mac, happy visitor to SeniorResource.com

Categories of Senior Apartments

The three pricing categories of apartments (although all may not be available in any one market) are:

  • Market rate
  • Above market rate, luxury rentals
  • Affordable

Market rate is just that. They offer unit size and numbers of bedrooms and baths as non-age-restricted rentals in the area at a competitive monthly price, or occasionally 10-15% under general age-occupancy market-rate rents. The senior orientation of the age-restricted community may, however, offer different amenities and other advantages geared to the needs and preferences of seniors.

Above market rate, luxury rentals also serve the age-restricted market. They are appealing to the affluent senior wanting a "home" in a second city, or wanting to be free of maintenance without giving up luxuries. Some high-end age-restricted properties definitely offer "snob" appeal.

Affordable apartments for seniors (sometimes 55+, more often 62+) are in high demand and short supply. Social, cultural, and medical changes have certainly contributed to the need.

Contributing factors are:

  • The predominance of women among the 65+ population and their lower retirement income
  • High divorce rates among women now 55-80
  • Out-living husbands resulting in lowered retirement income
  • Unplanned longevity leading to out-living one's financial resources

Per HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) "Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. An estimated 12 million renter and homeowner households now pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing. A family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford the local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States."

Government programs have created affordable apartments since the 1930s. What is defined as affordable in one community may not match the definition of affordable in another community.

  • Programs that provide opportunities for affordable housing are structured or defined by regulations from federal, county, or city government legislation.
  • "Vouchers" enable a qualified recipient to rent a market-rate home or apartment and the voucher assures the landlord that the renter will pay 30 percent of his or her monthly income toward the rent and the difference between that portion and the market-rate rent will come from the government entity granting the voucher.
  • Bonds may be through city or county redevelopment programs, and use the money raised from the bond sale to fund and subsidize specific development of housing for "lower" income people. Bonds may specify what percent of the median income someone must have to qualify to rent in their building. i.e.You may be restricted to make no more than 50 percent of the median income in the county. Perhaps the funding of the complex specifies that you can make no more than 120 percent of median income. The funding is specifically tied to the complex or specific units that are "affordable."
  • Funding can also come from grants, community, government, or federally based. The grant money functions similarly to bond money, designating percent of county median income at the time of the grant.
  • Tax credits are another way that the federal government may encourage the development of affordable housing. By awarding tax credits (money deducted from a company's federal tax obligation) in exchange for developing apartments within restrictive guidelines. In the past many years, we see properties developed to offer affordable apartments that combine tax credits, grants, and bond measures.

The most commonly-known rental vouchers are Section 8 vouchers, which can provide renter-based benefits to a qualified renter. They offer rent subsidies so tenants who hold them do not pay more than 30 percent of their adjusted gross income for rent.

To find out about affordable housing opportunities in an area, contact city or county housing agencies. Local senior centers and Area Agencies on Aging may also be able to identify affordable housing or even outline the steps for getting onto waiting lists. Because of the undersupply, waiting lists prevail in almost all regions for affordable rentals.

Things to Consider When Apartment Shopping

The three pricing categories of apartments (although all may not be available in any one market) are:

  • Parking convenience to the living unit.
  • Lighting and security around parking.
  • Storage
    • Are there a lot of closets and cupboards?
    • Is there common storage for an additional fee?
  • Stairs may be a deterrent or a means of staying fit.
  • Distance to shopping - walking or riding.
  • Public transportation availability and convenience.
  • Distance to medical facilities and doctors.
  • Security.
  • Total complex access from external streets.
  • Individual apartments
  • Intercom to the front door, apartment entry, and front desk.
  • Safety pull cord in the unit.
  • Grab bars in the bathroom and tub area.
  • Cabinet and counter height.
  • Shower and tub arrangements to meet your present and future needs.
  • Management quality and experience.
  • Amenities on site:
    • Pool.
    • Spa.
    • Clubhouse.
    • Laundry availability.
  • Services and activities available or provided.
  • Distance to relatives.
  • Greater community cultural activities.
  • If you are eligible for subsidies, do they accept rent vouchers?