Why Are 55+ RV Parks Legal?

You’ve just pulled into a beautiful RV park in the desert and are excited about staying there for a couple of weeks. But upon entering the office, you find that you’re not “qualified” to occupy a campsite. Why were you turned down? Was it the price? Was your RV too old? Nope! You’re too young! Many RV parks located in destinations with warm winter temperatures are designated as 55+ parks, pandering to senior RVers, and it’s perfectly legal. Let’s see how. 

What Are 55+ RV Parks?

These RV parks cater to the retired and soon-to-be-retired Baby Boomer generation and older. Many RVers over 55 enjoy staying in a park where they don’t have to endure the noise accompanying children and party-aged adults. The 55+ parks meet their needs and usually sit in areas where snowbirds and retirees congregate, especially in winter. You’ll find several in the three states that enjoy temperate winters: Florida, Arizona, and Texas. 

Do RV Parks Prohibit Entry for Those Under 55?

Yes, there are several parks, especially in regions with warm winters, designated as 55+ RV parks. Under the HOPA exemption, they can legally require their renters to be 55 years old or older. Some of these 55+ parks allow younger RVers if it’s a short stay or they don’t have children. But, as required by law, these parks can’t allow guests under 55 years of age to occupy more than 20% of their sites.

Under the “Housing for Older Persons” (HOPA) exemption in the Fair Housing Act, it’s perfectly legal for entities that provide senior housing to refuse to sell or rent to someone with children. Those who hold to the “55 and older” rule must use at least 80% of their occupancy for people that age or older. If they rent even one space more than their allotted 20% to an RVer under that age, the park risks losing its federal and state designation. 

Think of the 55+ rule the same way you think of the 21+ rule for bars. Each campground can choose that designation, but then they must adhere to the requirements and regulations.

Retired couple enjoying a 55+ rv park campsite.

What About Age Discrimination Laws?

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allows an exemption based on familial status. In other words, 55+ RV parks can use this exemption to explain why they don’t rent sites to those with minor children. And their designation as a 55+ park makes it lawful if they follow the 80/20 rule.

To keep their status as a 55+ park, RV campgrounds must survey their clientele every two years. They also must keep documentation showing that at least 80% of their campsites have at least one individual over 55. They have to prove that their advertising markets only to this older age group.

Many times older RVers find quieter parks with no children more conducive to their lifestyle. But the 55 and older rule can also filter out younger adults who may have a more fast-paced, louder daily routine. 

Whatever the reason, most 55+ resorts provide many activities that appeal to that age group and some support services. From pickleball to golf, cornhole to tennis, many of these age-restricted parks offer ideal sports for their residents. And they may also offer seminars about medical needs and physical resources. 

Couple taking a hike through the woods with a picnic basket.

What Do You Think About 55+ RV Parks? 

For many snowbirds migrating south for the winter, 55+ RV parks are just what the doctor ordered. They usually offer quiet campsites and plenty of activities involving other campers in the same age group. But for families looking to camp in a new locale, these age-limited campgrounds make it difficult. 

If you’re younger and frustrated with the restrictions, consider that these campgrounds don’t provide the activities, playgrounds, and other amenities that would make your camping experience enjoyable. Many people congregate with those who are more like themselves in age, family size, and interests. But if you’d like to try an age-restricted resort, ask if you could be part of the 20% exemption. Have you ever managed to stay at a 55+ resort through this exemption?

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