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Internal Review

Project Director

Technical Reviewer

Management Reviewer

A Word About This Manual

This manual was initially prepared as a resource for public housing agencies (PHAs) participating in the Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration that were transitioning to project-based management. However, given the recent shift to project-based management for the public housing program as a whole, it is anticipated that this manual will have much broader application. Included with this document are sample job descriptions for Regional Manager, Housing Manager, Housing Assistant, Maintenance Superintendent, Maintenance Superintendent and Housekeeper. These job descriptions are also in keeping with a project-based model.

How to Use This Manual

The intent of this document is to provide PHAs with a sample procedures manual for housing managers under project based management. Please note that it assumes a fairly evolved (or decentralized) project-based management structure, one that is consistent with norms in private housing. PHAs must decide what model best meets the needs for each property. Consequently, PHAs should adapt this manual to fit local conditions, where appropriate. For example, while the manual assumes that housing managers will have purchasing authority of up to $200 without prior approval from the regional manager, PHAs may feel that higher (lower) thresholds are appropriate.

Certain other assumptions used in the development of this manual include:

  • Local landlord-tenant laws. These laws vary across jurisdictions. For example, whereas this manual includes a late fee of $10 on the 6th day of the month and $15 on the 10th, PHAs may not be permitted, or may not choose to adopt, such a late fee policy. Similarly, rules on managing security deposits or the disposition of abandoned furniture vary by locality. PHAs will want to conform the procedures in this document to all such local laws.

  • Automated management information system. This manual assumes that the subject PHA has an automated management information system to handle such functions as: rent collections, wait list management, reexaminations, work orders, and property accounting.

  • Forms. It is assumed that, as part of this hypothetical PHA’s automated management information system, all forms required by housing management personnel are contained in a “shared” drive within the agency’s “intra-net.” This manual references, but does not include, these forms. The exception is of certain forms that, in the opinion of the authors, might be new to PHAs who previously have maintained centralized property management systems. For example, this manual includes a Petty Cash Log (few PHAs today have petty cash accounts for each property) as well as a Traffic Log (tracking the number of applicant inquiries under a site-based waiting list system). These selected forms appear as exhibits at the end of the chapters in which they are first introduced and are referenced, in the text, with brackets (<>).

  • Agency size. While no specific agency size was intended in the development of this manual, smaller agencies will likely have simpler organizations and possibly more streamlined procedures than contained herein.

  • Collective bargaining. The majority of larger PHAs are subject to collective bargaining agreements. This manual assumes that the maintenance staff is covered under a collective bargaining agreement, but one where the work rules are more similar to practices in private housing (where the workforce tends not to be subject to formal collective bargaining agreements).

In keeping with its conventional approach to property management, this manual has a particularly strong emphasis on marketing, curb appeal, and customer satisfaction. While some public housing properties benefit from strong demand, and therefore face little difficulty filling units, efforts at curb appeal, customer satisfaction, and marketing should be universal themes, regardless of property type or subsidy program.

Another resource developed in conjunction with this manual is a series of sample job descriptions. Managing under PBM model means the assignment of new job tasks and responsibilities for housing management personnel, especially for the following positions: housing manager, assistant housing manager, maintenance supervisor/technician, and regional property manager. The sample job descriptions are provided in the Manual’s Appendix.


This manual combines (1) the experience of various MTW and non-MTW PHAs who, in recent years, have initiated project-based management with (2) the actual operating procedures of a private property management company. Special appreciation is extended to: Allied Group of Renton, WA, and the housing authorities of King County, WA, Portland, OR, Cambridge, MA, Dade County, FL, Louisville, KY, Baltimore, MD, Tampa, FL, and Indianapolis, IN. This manual was prepared under contract C-OPC-21702, Task Order 5, between Abt Associates Inc. and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.


How to Use This Manual i

Introduction ix

Purpose ix

Property Management Goals ix

Agency Philosophy ix

Agency Organization x

Reporting Relationships x

Agency Policies x

Automated Management Information System (AMIS) xi

Organization of this Manual xi

Chapter 1 1

Financial Management 1

1.1.Overview 1

1.2.The Operating Budget 1

1.3.Financial Reporting 1

1.4.Budget Thresholds 2

1.5.Coding (Chart of Account Structure) 2

1.6.Monthly Cut-off 2

1.7.Declining Budget Form 3

1.8.Approving Vendor Invoices 4

1.9.Petty Cash 6

e of Agency Funds, Facilities, and Materials 7

1.11.Fixed Assets 7

1.12.Annual Inventory 8

Chapter 2 11

General Office Procedures 11

2.1. Overview 11

2.2.Administrative Staffing 11

2.3.Appearance 11

2.4.Office Equipment, Services, and Supplies 12

2.5.Hours of Operation 14

2.6.Phone Protocol 14

2.7.Filing 14

2.8.Bulletin Boards 15

2.9.Product Knowledge Notebook 16

2.10.Key Control 16

2.11.Agency Calendar 18

2.12.Courier Service 18

2.13.Weekly Property Staff Meeting 18

2.14.Monthly Operations Timeline 19

2.15.Periodic Reporting 19

2.16.Property Inspections 21

2.17.Utility Allowances 21

2.18.Accessibility 21

2.19.Access to Occupied Units 22

2.20.Approvals for Non-Housing Use of Units 23

2.21.Parking 23

2.22.Property Insurance 23

2.23.Emergency Procedures Plan/Manual 25

2.24.Annual Reexaminations 26

terim, or Special, Reexaminations 27

2.26.Lease Renewals/Expirations 27

2.27.Annual Home Inspections 28

2.28.Resident Complaints 28

2.29.Required Approvals 28

Chapter 3 31

Marketing and Leasing Presentation 31

3.1.Overview 31

3.2.The Leasing Training Program 31

3.3.Leasing Book 31

3.4.Advertising/Marketing Efforts 32

3.5.The Marketing Plan 34

3.6.Telephone Technique/The Invitation to Apply 38

3.7.The Importance of an Accurate Traffic Log 38

3.8.Signage 39

3.9.Curb Appeal 39

3.10.Landscaping 40

3.11.Safety Precautions for Leasing 40

3.12.Showing the Apartment/The Marketing Path 41

3.13.Closing the Deal 42

3.14.A Lasting Impression 43

3.15.How Do Others View You? 44

3.16.Special Leasing Plans for Properties Completing Modernization 44

3.17.Maintaining Copies of Advertising 44

3.18.Fair Housing 44

3.19.General Comment 45

Chapter 4 47

The Waiting List 47

4.1.Overview 47

4.2.Outline of Site-based Waiting List Procedures 47

Chapter 5 51

The Mechanics of Leasing an Apartment 51

5.1.Orientation 51

5.2.Move-in Inspection 52

5.3.What to Give the Resident at Move-in 53

5.4.Resident Handbook 53

5.5.Lease Execution 54

5.6.Rental Insurance 54

5.7.Live-in Aide 55

5.8.Resident Transfers 55

Chapter 6 57

Resident Relations and Retention 57

6.1.Overview 57

6.2.Developing a Relationship 57

6.3.Amenities 58

6.4.Newsletters 59

les for Resident Retention 60

6.6.Parcels and Packages 60

6.7.Mailboxes 61

6.8.Parking Numbering Systems 61

6.9.Resident Recognition Programs 61

6.10.Resident Councils/Associations 61

6.11.Resident Council Funding 62

6.12.Programming Community Space 62

6.13.Collaborations with Outside Service Agencies 63

Chapter 7 65

Unit Turnover Procedures 65

7.1.Termination of the Lease 65

7.2.Move-Out Process 66

7.3.Cleaning and Preparing Vacant Units 69

7.4.Monitoring Unit Turnover 71

Chapter 8 73

Maintenance 73

8.1.Overview 73

8.2.Personnel and Staffing Plan 73

8.3.Customer Relations and Appearance 74

8.4.Work Order Procedures 75

8.5.Unit Turnover (see also Chapter 7) 79

8.6.Preventive Maintenance 80

8.7.Working Hours 82

8.8.Uniforms 82

ventory and Materials Management 82

8.10.Shop Organization 84

8.11.Purchasing (see also Chapter 11) 84

8.12.After-Hours Procedures 85

8.13.Maintenance Quality Inspection 85

8.14.Vehicles 86

8.15.Reporting Problems 86

8.16.Dumpsters 87

8.17.Grounds Maintenance 87

8.18.Warranties 87

8.19.Graffiti 87

8.20.Service Contracts 87

spections 88

8.22.Salvage/Disposition of Materials 89

8.23.Fire Code Violations 89

8.24.Emergency Snow Plan 89

8.25.Domestic Hot Water 89

8.26.Weekend and Holiday Coverage 89

Chapter 9 91

Lease Enforcement 91

9.1Overview 91

9.2General Principle 91

9.3Notices/Process 91

9.4Evictions 93

9.5Legal Status Codes 94

9.6Charges 94

9.7House Rules 94

9.8Formal Resident Grievances 94

9.9Alterations to Unit 95

9.10Disposition of Abandoned Property 95

Chapter 10 99

Security Programs 99

10.1Overview 99

10.2. Security Program 99

10.3.Daily Patrol of Grounds 99

10.4.Graffiti Removal 99

10.5.Restricted Parking 100

10.6.Lighting 100

10.7.Signs 100

10.8.Access Control 100

10.9.Security Equipment 101

10.10.Courtesy Guard Service 101

10.11.Resident Programs 101

10.12.Law Enforcement 101

10.13. Tracking Crime 101

10.14. Photo Identification 102

10.15. Lease Enforcement 102

10.16. Office Security 102

10.17. Incident Reporting 102

Chapter 11 103

Procurement 103

11.1.Overview 103

11.2.Ethics in Public Procurement 103

11.3.Procurement Planning 104

11.4.Authorization Levels 104

11.5.Procurement Methods 105

11.6.Technical Description and Specifications for Procurement 105

11.7.Cost and Price Analysis 106

11.8.Blanket Contracts (i.e., Pre-Established Contracts) 106

11.9.Section 3 107

11.10.Minority Business Enterprise Program 109

11.11.Wage Rate Requirements for Maintenance Work 109

surance 110

11.13.Codes and Laws 111

11.14.Certifications and Permits 111

11.15.Identifying and Soliciting Vendors 111

11.16.Vendor Registration 112

11.17.Justification of Award to Other than Lowest Bidder 113

11.18.Non-Competitive Purchasing 113

11.19.Executing the PO/Obtaining Approvals 114

11.20.Notifying Vendors of Award 114

11.21.Appeals from Unsuccessful Vendors 114

11.22.Receiving your Goods or Services 114

11.23.Record Keeping 116

ternal Controls 117

Chapter 12 118

Capital Programs 118

12.1.Overview 118

12.2.Capital Planning 118

12.3.Capital Fund Budget 118

12.4.Procuring Capital Improvements 118

12.5.Modifications to Physical Plant 120

12.6.Capital Work Funded through Resident Councils and Other Bodies 120

Chapter 13 123

Personnel 123

13.1.Overview 123

pervisory Responsibility 123

13.3.Recruitment, Posting, and Filling Personnel Positions 123

13.4.Drug Testing 124

13.5.Dress Code and Uniform Policy 125

13.6.Training 125

13.7.Beepers and Communications 125

13.8.On-Call Status 125

13.9.Attendance Reports 125

13.10.Overtime 125

13.11.Leave of Absence 126

13.12.Payroll Records 126

13.13.Disciplinary Action 126

13.14.Annual Performance Reviews 126

13.15.Salary Schedules and Compensation 126

13.16.Reclassifications 127

13.17.Employee Files 127

13.18. Posting of Minimum Wage, Worker Safety, and EEO Signs 127

13.19. Accident/Injury Reports 127

13.19.1.Time Clocks 127

13.19.2.Employee Orientation 127

13.20.Travel Expenses 127

Chapter 14 129

Risk Management and Safety 129

14.1.Overview 129

14.2.General Loss Prevention Strategy 129

14.3.Notice/Signage 129

14.4.Reserves Against Losses 129

14.5.Drugs/Security 129

14.6.Monthly Safety Meetings 130

14.7.Sound Safety Practices 130

14.8.Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) 131

ment 131

Chapter 15 133

Energy Conservation 133

15.1.Overview 133

15.2.HUD’s Utility Funding 133

voicing 133

15.4.Utility Monitoring 133

15.5.Capital Planning 133

Chapter 16 135

Computer Operations 135

16.1. Equipment and Software 135

16.2. Repairs and Service 135

16.3. Computer File Storage 135

16.4. E-mail 136

16.5. Scheduling 136

16.6. Help Desk 136

16.7. User Computer Access Form 136

16.8. Training System Access 136

Chapter 17 137

Tenant Accounting 137

17.1.Overview of the Tenant Accounting System (TAS) 137

17.2.Leasing of Units: Rent Set-Up 137

17.3.Move-out 138

17.4.Unit Status Codes 138

17.5.Rent Collections 138

17.6.Resident Charges 140

17.7.Rent Re-Determination 140

17.8.Terminating Accounts 140

17.9.Office Safe 141

17.10.Escrow Accounts 142

17.11.Reimbursement for Property Damage to Resident 142

17.12.Reporting Other Income 142

17.13.NSF/Account Closed Checks 143

Appendix - Exhibits



The purpose of this manual is to provide each Housing Manager, and other site personnel, with the routine operating instructions and general expectations for the day-to-day operation of his/her development.

This procedures manual has been designed as a simple reference guide. It is not an attempt to replace communication between the Housing Manager and supervisor. The Housing Manager has a responsibility to ask questions and inform the supervisor if he/she does not understand any instruction contained, or faces a situation not addressed, herein.

Note: Hereafter, simply for the sake of editorial convenience, residents and applicants are referred to using the feminine pronoun and housing management staff are referred to using the masculine pronoun.

Property Management Goals

The Agency’s goals for all properties that it manages are:

  • To maintain the property in superb condition,

  • To keep expenses within the operating budget,

  • To explore opportunities for revenue growth or expense reduction,

  • To assess and address capital needs proactively,

  • To comply with all Federal, State, and local laws and regulations, and

  • To provide excellent service to all residents.

The development of the annual budget for each property shall reflect these goals.

Agency Philosophy

The Agency is devoted to providing first-rate property management services and believes, in furtherance of that goal, that its employees are its greatest assets. As such, the Agency is committed to making the workplace a source of joy, pride, and learning. The Agency recognizes that personal growth is imperative for an employee’s full potential to be realized. Therefore, the Agency encourages the pursuit of educational means designed to refine and expand job skills. The Agency also strongly supports career advancement through internal promotion.

The Agency’s solid reputation has been built on the success of its employees and is committed to providing competitive wages, benefits, and fair management practices.

The Agency is an equal opportunity employer and does/will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment in any manner.

Agency Organization

Agency structure is typical of most property owners/agents, except that the Agency is overseen by a five-member Board of Commissioners, which sets policy and provides oversight. The Agency has two main divisions – Property Management and Housing Vouchers. In addition, the Agency maintains four “support” offices – Accounting, Resident Services, Human Resources, and IT. Within Property Management, there are two regions, overseen by Regional Managers, and an Office of Construction, which handles larger construction projects, e.g., comprehensive modernization.

Reporting Relationships

The Housing Manager is responsible for the overall operating performance of the property, from collecting rent to readying vacant units. Although the Housing Manager may delegate the completion of these tasks to subordinates, the Housing Manager is ultimately responsible for their successful completion and for meeting all property goals.

The following is the chain of command:

Site personnel (other than Housing Manager)

Housing Manager

Regional Manager

Director of Property Management

Agency Director

Under this arrangement, each Housing Manager will go to his Regional Manager for management leadership, while all other on-site personnel will receive supervisory direction from their Housing Manager.

If it is not possible to resolve issues that come up in connection with employment, job activities, or general requests with the direct supervisor, staff should contact the next person in the chain of command. Issues relating specifically to employment may be referred to Human Resources.

Agency Policies

In addition to the instructions contained in this manual, the Housing Manager shall also be familiar with the following, copies of which shall be available in the Management Office:

  • Admission and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP)

  • Personnel Handbook

  • Ethics Policy

  • Risk Management Handbook

  • Collective Bargaining Agreement

  • Emergency Procedures Manual

  • Job Descriptions (for all site employees)

  • Utility Allowance Schedule

  • Product Knowledge Notebook

  • Leasing Notebook

  • Resident Handbook

The Housing Manager shall also be familiar with (and have a copy of) HUD’s Public Housing Occupancy Handbook.

The Housing Manager is expected to keep current with all policies and procedures that come into effect at a later date, as notified by the Agency.


All required management forms can be found on the Agency’s “shared” drive, along with this manual and other related documents, including the Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy, the Personnel Handbook, the Lease, etc. The Housing Manager shall become familiar with any updates, deletions, or additions to these required policies, procedures, and forms.

Automated Management Information System (AMIS)

The Agency maintains an automated management information system, or AMIS. This system, which is explained more fully in Chapter 16, includes the following modules:

  • Finance

  • Tenant Accounting

  • Work Orders

  • Purchasing, and

  • Wait List

As a result of AMIS, the Housing Manager does not need to prepare certain management reports that might otherwise be required in other property management organizations. Rather, standardized reports are available electronically within the respective modules, which the Housing Managers can access directly. For example, AMIS eliminates the need for Accounting to distribute monthly financial reports since the Housing Manager can access these reports electronically.

Organization of this Manual

The remainder of this manual is divided into the following chapters:

  1. Financial Management

  2. General Office Procedures

  3. Marketing and Leasing Presentation

  4. Site-based Waiting Lists

  5. The Mechanics of Leasing an Apartment

  6. Resident Relations and Retention

  7. Unit Turnover Procedures

  8. Maintenance

  9. Lease Enforcement

  10. Security

  11. Procurement

  12. Capital Programs

  13. Personnel

  14. Safety and Risk Management

  15. Energy Conservation

  16. Computer Operations

  17. Tenant Accounting

Chapter 1

Financial Management


This chapter covers financial management, including annual budgeting, financial reporting, and accounting (other than tenant accounting, which is discussed in Chapter 17).

1.2.The Operating Budget

Property-specific operating budgets are developed each year according to the following schedule:



1. Accounting releases preliminary budget figures, including any fees for centralized services.

5 months prior to start of fiscal year

2. Final budget package distributed to Housing Managers.

4 months prior to start of fiscal year

3. Housing Managers complete and submit detailed budgets to Regional Managers.

3 months prior to start of fiscal year

4. Site budgets approved.

2 month prior to start of fiscal year

The key to meeting this schedule is proper planning. When preparing the budget, the Housing Manager should examine last year’s expenses, deferred costs, property inspections, service contracts, etc.

Typically, in accordance with instructions provided by Accounting, the Housing Manager will be required to prepare/submit the following as part of the annual budget package:

  • Rental Market Study

  • Projected Rent and Income Schedule

  • Line Item Budget and Supporting Narrative

  • Updated Capital Needs Analysis

  • Three-year Operating Comparison Worksheet

1.3.Financial Reporting

The Housing Manager is responsible for the budgetary performance of the property. Once the budget for the property has been approved, Accounting will produce monthly financial reports by the 5th business day of the month. These financial reports (covering the prior month’s activities) will be available within the Finance Module of AMIS.

Once the financial reports are available, the Housing Manager reviews these reports with the Regional Manager. The Regional Manager then prepares, by the 10th day of the month, a narrative explanation for all major line item variances (maintenance materials, maintenance contracts, personnel, etc.), positive or negative.

In reviewing the monthly financial reports, the Housing Manager assures that all charges to the property are accurate. If the Housing Manager determines that an expense has been inappropriately charged to his property, he contacts Accounting to reverse any charges. Ultimately, the Housing Manager is responsible for all site purchases.

1.4.Budget Thresholds

The approved operating budget is the formal financial plan for the property for the subject year. Once approved, the Housing Manager is responsible for implementing that budget. The Housing Manager is authorized to make purchases up to $200 without prior approval from the Regional Manager. Any single purchase of more than $200 requires the approval of the Regional Manager. (Please see Chapter 11, Procurement.)

Regardless of the purchasing approval levels, the Housing Manager is ultimately responsible for all expenses incurred by the property and for assuring economy of operation.

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