Per the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 17% of the nation’s population – more than 56 million individuals – is 65 and older. As the Baby Boomer generation
Here are some items to keep in mind when considering a condominium association’s population that is aging in place:
§ The importance of effective communication. As with most condominium matters, one of the keys to ensuring the needs of community residents are being addressed, and that all individuals are being afforded an opportunity to participate, is to communicate with them. Condominium associations should strive to be as transparent as possible (of course, without disclosing personal, privileged or confidential information) in communicating with homeowners. Associations should think not only about the information that is being communicated, but also about the method of communication. While Zoom and email has become a routine part of most of our lives, there may be residents who are not comfortable utilizing, or do not know how to communicate, on these platforms. Consideration should be given to providing information on multiple platforms, if feasible. By way of example, if a community newsletter is only sent by email, but certain residents do not use email, consider printing out the newsletter and delivering to their mailbox or residence.
§ Stay on top of maintenance obligations. It is always important to keep up with routine maintenance, but it becomes critical when residents with mobility issues are accessing and using the common areas. Repairs should be made to uneven walkways, damaged ramps, malfunctioning doors, and the like. It may be prudent to solicit feedback from residents so that the association can address areas of top concern.
§ Keep apprised of relevant legislation. An association should keep informed about current legislation that may impact how it manages the common area, including state legislation and local laws concerning disabilities and accessibility. The association’s counsel and trade organizations, such as CAI-NE, are helpful resources in identifying legislation that may impact associations and how best to address and comply with new laws.
§ Maintain family contact information. It is advisable to maintain emergency contact information, so that the association can communicate with residents’ family members in the event of an emergency. This information should be regularly updated. In collecting such information, the association should be aware of any privacy laws, and preserve the confidentiality of any information that has been provided.
§ Review rules and regulations to ensure that they are practical and reasonable in light of the community’s demographics. Condominium associations should regularly review rules and regulations to ensure that they are reasonable and practical in light of the characteristics of the association’s residents. By way of example, certain rules and regulations may require homeowners to maintain landscaping or to paint their front doors, but that work may be difficult for aging residents. Boards should consider the benefits and detriments of each rule and regulation and modify the rules to ensure that they continue to be reasonable.
§ Other considerations. There are a number of other considerations that an association may keep in mind, such as ensuring the condominium’s governing documents do not unduly prohibit modifications in architectural integrity provisions to ensure that homes can be adapted appropriately, and promoting active lifestyles for seniors, such as by encouraging attendance at community meetings, starting clubs, or planning activities, such as pickleball.
Taking the steps identified in this article will go far to attract new senior residents and to make your community a comfortable place for those aging in place to stay.
Co-chair of REBA’s Continuing Education Section, Kim Bielan is a principal of firm Moriarty, Troyer & Malloy, LLC., and member of the firm’s litigation and zoning and land use departments. She represents a variety of clients, including condominium associations, developers, and individual homeowners. She also represents clients on a variety of real estate permitting matters and frequently appears before municipal boards to permit projects and to represent the interests of abutters and neighborhood groups. Kim can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.