How Can 55+ RV Parks Refuse Younger RVers, Legally?
Do a search for campgrounds across the country, particularly in states that snowbirds flock to, and you’ll find a lot of 55+ RV parks.
At first glance, it may seem like age discrimination. But is it really?
In this article, we dive into the topic and unearth how campgrounds can get away with refusing RVers under 55 years old.
Let’s start by finding out if this action is legal.
Are 55+ RV Parks Actually Legal?
We’ll cut to the chase. Yes, it is legal for RV parks to rent campsites to people based on their age.
There is a Housing for Older Persons (HOPA) exemption from HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development).
HOPA supplements the Fair Housing Act originally designed to protect residents from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap, or familial status.
Furthermore, the HUD website states: “Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Fair Housing Act, prohibits age discrimination in housing. A 1988 amendment to the Act created an exemption for housing for adults age 55 and over as long as it provided facilities and services designed to meet the physical and social needs of the elderly.
However, the Housing for Older Americans Act of 1995 eliminated this requirement. In addition, these communities often are designed for and marketed to customers in their 50s and 60s who are more interested in golf courses, swimming pools, and other community amenities than in the supportive services they may eventually need.”
So 55+ only campgrounds are legal, but RV parks that refuse individuals 55+ would be illegal.
How Do 55+ RV Parks Get Away With Turning Away Younger RVers?
Since the HOPA exemption is legal, RV parks can designate themselves within this category. As long as they’re providing recreation, like a pool, activities, and other amenities to support older adults.
RV parks that are 55+ are typically full, as people of that age are often empty nesters and looking for a social life without kids.
So we get it. Some of you with young kids probably think you wish you could go to a 55+ park by yourself for a vacation!
Pro Tip: 55 or up and considering staying at a 55+ RV park? This is Why RV Owners Like Age Restrictive RV Parks?
But Wait… Don’t They Have To Allow A Certain Percentage of Younger RVers?
If you’ve been in the RV community for a while, you’ve probably heard that 55+ RV parks have to allow 20% of their bookings to go to people under 55 years old. This is a myth.
They may let up to 20% of the sites go to younger people, but the federal government does not require it. In fact, they could lose their HOPA designation if they go over that percentage.
While remaining within the 20% threshold, some RV parks allow people under 55 years old to book a site. They typically cater to those traveling without kids since they’re looking for quiet guests.
If you’re trying to book a 55+ park, we recommend calling and explaining your situation to see if they’ll let you in.
What States Have the Most Age Restrictive Parks?
Southern states tend to attract the most snowbirds from the U.S. and Canada, including individuals over 55. Therefore, states in this region have the most age-restrictive RV parks.
Florida, Arizona, and southern Texas are the top three states with 55+ parks.
Why Do Some 55+ RV Parks Let Younger RVers in, and Others Refuse?
RV parks let people under 55 in for a variety of reasons. It may depend on the time of year. For example, most snowbirds in Arizona start going home in late March and April.
If you’re traveling through the state after the peak season, you may have a greater chance of booking a restrictive age park.
Some 55+ RV parks simply refuse to allow younger people to stay with them. Again, the reasons vary, but a standard answer is their desire to not have to make decisions every time someone asks.
In addition, a hard and fast rule just makes their booking process more manageable.
Pro Tip: Want to know what a 55+ RV park is like? We Snuck Into a 55+ RV Park, Here’s What We Learned.
Are 55+ Parks Less Expensive Than Regular RV Parks?
The cost of 55+ RV parks is on the expensive side. But you typically get what you pay for similarly to an exclusive club. The parks usually have lots of amenities, including pools, pickleball, shuffleboard, and community activities.
Some require a membership to be a part of the park. In comparison, others allow you to purchase a lot in the park and pay annual dues.
The RV Industry Is Full of Restrictions
If you think that restrictions when RVing seem a bit overboard, think again. The RV industry is full of regulations. In addition to age-restrictive parks, some RV parks have a 10-year rule.
This means that you can only stay at their campground if your RV is ten years old or newer.
If it’s older than 10 years old and you ask to be granted access, they’ll likely have you take a photo to see what it looks like. They may or may not turn you away depending on the condition of your rig.
Campgrounds also have length restrictions. It’s difficult to find national park and state park campgrounds that allow rigs longer than 35-40 feet. This is often due to the evolution of RV manufacturing. Many campgrounds were built decades ago when RVs were smaller.
Unless they undergo renovations, a campground’s sites may still only accommodate small RVs.
The bottom line is, there are restrictions in the RV industry for reasons. That doesn’t mean you’ll like all of them. We can relate. But by understanding them you can navigate to find RV parks and campgrounds that suit your needs.
Adults Only RV Parks Have Benefits, But There Are Other Options
There are benefits to the social life and amenities of 55+ RV parks. But no matter your age there are plenty of other options, even in Florida, Arizona, and Texas.
There are campgrounds that cater to all ages with many of the same amenities as adult-only parks, if not more.
Another camping option is boondocking. If you’re traveling in Arizona, you can find many free camping options on public land in the desert.
If you’re 55 years or older and have stayed at an adult-only RV park, we would love to hear about your experience. Would you recommend it to others? Share in the comments below.
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