The Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that condominium associations can ban sales to families with children.
The ruling, which overturned a lower court's decision, is a victory for developers of adult-only condominiums.
The legality of adult-only condominiums has been questioned since 1977, when the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that restrictions on families are "an unconstitutional violation of [the] . . . rights to marry and procreate."
But the Supreme Court opinion said, "we cannot ignore the fact that some housing complexes are specifically designed for certain age groups. In our view, age restrictions are a reasonable means to identify and categorize the varying desires of our population."
The court added that the restrictions on potential buyers must be reasonable and apply to all persons equally.
The ruling stems from a Fort Lauderdale case filed by White Egret Condominium Inc., against two West Virginia brothers, Marvin and Norman Franklin.
The Franklins bought a condominium in the northeast Fort Lauderdale high-rise through a real estate agent. The brothers planned to use the condominium for alternating vacations with their families.
The condominium assocation brought suit against the brothers, saying they could not share ownership of the "single-family" condominium.
The association also cited a rule banning children under 12. Norman Franklin's youngest son was nearly 12 at the time.
Broward Circuit Judge Eugene Fischer ruled that only one of the brothers could hold title to the condominium. Because Marvin Franklin had no children under the age of 12, Fischer ordered Norman Franklin to transfer his half of the ownership to his brother.
The Court of Appeal in West-Palm Beach reversed the ruling.
Courts in California and Arizona have upheld the rights of landlords and developers to ban families from apartments and condominiums.