Eviction Rights for Community Residents

Author: Amanda Woodward

| Published on: April,05 | Viewed: 2857 times


Although senior housing is typically under state rather than federal regulation, all housing falls under federal fair housing law. This includes retirement communities, assisted living facilities, adult foster care homes, and skilled nursing facilities.

This means that you can only be evicted from senior housing if you violate the lease agreement or contract.

Contracts or leases often include provisions for eviction if you:

  • Do not pay your rent

  • Destroy property

  • Harass other residents

  • Violate rules related to noise, weapons, or pets

  • Behave in a way that presents a direct threat to others

You cannot be evicted because of:

  • Race, color, national origin

  • Religion

  • Sex/gender

  • Disability

Some statutes include other protections as well. In California, you are legally protected from eviction based on:

  • Marital status

  • Sexual orientation

  • Gender identity

  • Gender expression

  • Source of income

  • Medical condition

  • Ancestry

  • Genetic information

  • Arbitrary discrimination

You also cannot be evicted from housing because you refuse to follow a care plan, such as taking prescribed medications.

Even if the eviction notice does not explicitly state one of these, you may be able to prove that it is the real reason. If you feel you are being discriminated against by a senior community, document everything that occurs to help support these claims.

Reasonable accommodations

If you are evicted for something included in your lease or contract, you may be able to have the eviction reversed if you can address the problem with a reasonable accommodation. A reasonable accommodation would be something that does not cost too much, impose undue burden on the senior community, or requires them to fundamentally change what they provide.  

For example:

  • If you have a memory disorder, you can request a phone call to remind you to pay the rent.

  • If you are evicted for poor housekeeping and you can verify it is due to a disability, you can reverse the eviction by arranging for a cleaning service.

  • If you are evicted because your health has declined beyond what the senior community can assist with, you can request to bring in a private caregiver to provide additional help.

There is no limit on the number of times you can request reasonable accommodations. The senior community must address each new request. If the senior community denies your request, you can file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. However, if you receive repeated eviction notices and don’t follow through with the accommodation requests, the senior community can move forward with eviction on the basis that your requests are imposing an undue burden.

Senior housing communities don’t want to evict residents, but they do have an obligation to keep all of their residents safe and a right to maintain their property and business. Have clear conversations with the senior housing staff so you understand what is expected. They can help you with reasonable accommodations up front, which is the best way to avoid being evicted. If you do receive an eviction notice, however, make sure you understand the reason and your rights for appealing. Seniorly staff can help answer your questions and direct you to appropriate resources as well.

Seniorly is the trusted resource for comprehensive information on all things senior living. Visit www.seniorly.com or call us at (415) 570-4370 to speak to one of our family coordinators today!

About Amanda Woodward

Amanda Toler Woodward, PhD is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Michigan State University. She does research on services and supports for older adults including racial and ethnic disparities in access to services and international comparisons of service systems. She writes about a wide range of topics related to aging research, social work, academia, and whatever else catches her fancy at www.amandatolerwoodward.com

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