This is an excellent question and one that is commonly asked in South Florida as it is one of the epicenters of Adult Communities in the country.
Below is an excerpt from the Florida Commission of Human Relations website (see link): http://fchr.state.fl.us/resources/55_housing
regarding Federal Register 24 CFR Part 100; section 760.24-760.37 (4a), Florida Statutes:
"For a community to be considered "housing for older persons" as a 55+ community, the housing must be intended and operated for occupancy by persons 55 years of age or older and meet the following requirements:
At least 80% of the occupied units are occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older.
The facility or community publishes and adheres to policies and procedures that demonstrate its intent to in fact be a provider of housing for older persons.
The facility or community complies with rules established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for verification of occupancy."
Additionally, many communities will have other restrictions in terms of who else may occupy the home and the duration they are allowed to reside there. If you are not already working with a realtor you should find one that knows intricacies of the each community and can properly advise you through out the process.
Contact me today to schedule a no obligation consultation or you can register on my website at http://www.investorsedge.kwrealty.com
to gain direct access to the MLS and save your own customized searches!
Keller Williams Realty