Caregivers within Senior Communities

Civil Code Section 51.3 (and Section 51.11 for communities within Riverside County) provides senior communities located within California the authority to implement and enforce age-restrictions for their residents. (See “Senior Communities.”) Those restrictions must include a requirement that each unit be occupied by at least one “qualifying resident”—meaning a person 62 years of age or older, or 55 years of age or older depending on the category of the senior community. (Civ. Code §§ 51.3(b)(1), 51.11(b)(1).) However, Civil Code Sections 51.3 and 51.11 also allow for other categories of persons whom do not meet the standard of a “qualifying resident” to also reside in a unit with a qualifying resident. (Civ. Code §§ 51.3(c), 51.11(c).) One of those categories includes “permitted health care residents” (i.e., caregivers).

“Permitted Health Care Resident” Defined
A “permitted health care resident” is defined as a person hired to provide live-in, long term, or terminal health care to a qualifying resident, or a family member of the qualifying resident providing that care. (Civ. Code §§ 51.3(b)(7), 51.11(b)(7).) The care provided by a permitted health care resident must be “substantial in nature,” and also must provide either medical treatment or “assistance with necessary daily activities,” or both. (Civ. Code §§ 51.3(b)(7), 51.11(b)(7).) Notably, neither Section 51.3 nor 51.11 set forth any restrictions on the age of permitted health care residents.

Continuation of Occupancy in the Absence of Qualifying Resident
When a qualifying resident temporarily vacates a unit, the qualifying resident’s permitted health care resident has limited rights to continue his/her occupancy, residency or use of the unit if both of the following are applicable:

  • The qualifying resident’s absence was due to hospitalization or other necessary treatment, and the qualifying resident expects to return to the unit within ninety (90) days from the day the absence began; (Civ. Code §§ 51.3(b)(7)(A), 51.11(b)(7)(A)) and
  • The absent qualifying resident (or his/her agent) submits a written request to the association’s board of directors stating that the qualifying resident desires that the permitted health care resident be allowed to remain in order to be present in the unit when the qualifying resident returns. (Civ. Code §§ 51.3(b)(7)(B), 51.11(b)(7)(B).)

Discretionary Extension of Time
In addition to the foregoing, upon a written request from the qualifying resident (or his/her agent), the board has the discretion to allow a permitted health care resident to remain in the unit for any additional ninety (90) days from the day when the qualifying resident’s absence began, but only if it “appears that the [qualifying resident] will return within a period of time not to exceed an additional 90 days.” (Civ. Code §§ 51.3(b)(7), 51.11(b)(7).)

Compensation of Caregivers
The rights of a permitted health care resident to occupy the unit extends to periods of time when the permitted health care resident is providing care to a qualifying resident “for compensation.” Compensation does not solely include monetary payment, but may also include “provisions of lodging and food in exchange for care.” (Civ. Code § 51.3(j).)