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SENIOR COMMUNITY POOLS

QUESTION: I live in a retirement community in Palm Springs. My grandkids visit during the summer and want to use the swimming pool but the association limits the hours for children. Isn't that discriminatory? I didn't think associations could restrict children from using pools.

ANSWER: Because you live in a senior community, your association can impose restrictions on children that other associations cannot.

Federal Statutes. Under the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA), senior communities are exempt from the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition against discrimination against children, i.e., discrimination on the basis of familial status. As such, senior communities can limit or even prohibit children from using recreational common facilities. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):
If a housing community facility qualifies under HOPA as housing for older persons, the community facility is exempt from the Act's prohibition against discrimination on the basis of familial status. The housing community facility may restrict families with children from benefits of the community, or otherwise treat family households differently than senior households... (HUD Guide).
California Statutes. California has similar exceptions. Civil Code §51.3 legalizes senior communities and Government Code §12955.9(a) provides that familial status discrimination prohibitions do not apply in retirement communities.

Case Law. The Sunrise Country Club Assn. v. Proud case upheld a community association’s practice of creating separate “adult only” and “family” areas on the basis they were not unreasonable and thus did not violate applicable laws, including the Unruh Act which precludes discrimination by businesses within the State of California. The Unruh Act does not prohibit all age-based discrimination, only that which is unreasonable, arbitrary or invidious.

Conclusion. Association boards in 55+ communities can set separate pool hours for children and adults.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

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