Admissions & Continued Occupancy Plan

The Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan lays out the regulations and standards by which any Public Housing Authority (PHA) must run the tenant application process, choose tenant and manage occupancy.


Acronyms used in Public Housing.

Download the glossary to get a list of industry terms used in the various chapters of the Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan.

Overview Of The Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan

The PHA receives its operating subsidy for the public housing program from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The PHA is not a federal department or agency. A public housing agency (PHA) is a governmental or public body, created and authorized by state law to develop and operate housing and housing programs for low-income families. The PHA enters into an Annual Contributions Contract with HUD to administer the public housing program. The PHA must ensure compliance with federal laws, regulations and notices and must establish policies and procedures to clarify federal requirements and to ensure consistency in program operation.

This chapter contains information about the PHA and its programs with emphasis on the public housing program. It also contains information about the purpose, intent and use of the plan and guide.

Download chapter 1 to learn more about the admissions and continued occupancy plan which is outlined in the following sections on this page.

Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity

This chapter explains the laws and HUD regulations requiring PHAs to affirmatively further civil rights and fair housing in all federally-assisted housing programs. The letter and spirit of these laws are implemented through consistent policy and procedures. The responsibility to further nondiscrimination pertains to all areas of the PHA’s public housing operations.

Download chapter 2 to learn more about nondiscrimination policies related to persons with disabilities, and prohibition of against limited English proficiency persons.


The PHA is responsible for ensuring that every individual and family admitted to the public housing program meets all program eligibility requirements. This includes any individual approved to join the family after the family has been admitted to the program. The family must provide any information needed by the PHA to confirm eligibility and determine the level of the family’s assistance.

Download chapter 3 to learn more about housing eligibility.

Application, Waiting List and Tenant Selection

When a family wishes to reside in public housing, the family must submit an application that provides the PHA with the information needed to determine the family’s eligibility. HUD requires the PHA to place all eligible families that apply for public housing on a waiting list. When a unit becomes available, the PHA must select families from the waiting list in accordance with HUD requirements and PHA policies as stated in its Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) and its annual plan.

The PHA is required to adopt a clear approach to accepting applications, placing families on the waiting list, and selecting families from the waiting list, and must follow this approach consistently. The actual order in which families are selected from the waiting list can be affected if a family has certain characteristics designated by HUD or the PHA to receive preferential treatment.

HUD regulations require that the PHA comply with all equal opportunity requirements and it must affirmatively further fair housing goals in the administration of the program [24 CFR 960.103, PH Occ GB p. 13]. Adherence to the selection policies described in this chapter ensures that the PHA will be in compliance with all relevant fair housing requirements, as described in Chapter 2.

This chapter describes HUD and PHA policies for accepting applications, managing the waiting list and selecting families from the waiting list. The PHAs policies for assigning unit size and making unit offers are contained in Chapter 5. Together, Chapters 4 and 5 of the ACOP comprise the PHA’s Tenant Selection and Assignment Plan (TSAP).

Download chapter 4 to learn more about the application process, the wait list and tenant selection.

Occupancy Standards & Unit Offers

Occupancy standards are established by the PHA to ensure that units are occupied by families of the appropriate size. This policy maintains the maximum usefulness of the units, while preserving them from underutilization or from excessive wear and tear due to overcrowding. Part I of this chapter explains the occupancy standards. These standards describe the methodology and factors the PHA will use to determine the size unit for which a family qualifies, and includes the identification of the minimum and maximum number of household members for each unit size. This part also identifies circumstances under which an exception to the occupancy standards may be approved.


In selecting a family to occupy a particular unit, the PHA may match characteristics of the family with the type of unit available, for example, number of bedrooms [24 CFR 960.206(c)].

HUD does not specify the number of persons who may live in public housing units of various sizes. PHAs are permitted to develop appropriate occupancy standards as long as the standards do not have the effect of discriminating against families with children [PH Occ GB, p. 62].

Although the PHA does determine the size of unit the family qualifies for under the occupancy standards, the PHA does not determine who shares a bedroom/sleeping room.

The PHA’s occupancy standards for determining unit size must be applied in a manner consistent with fair housing requirements.

Download chapter 5 to learn more about how potential tenants are matched with available units.

Income & Rent Determinations

A family’s annual income is used to determine their income eligibility for the public housing program and is also used to calculate the amount of the family’s rent payment. The PHA will use the policies and methods described in this chapter to ensure that only income-eligible families receive assistance and that no family pays more or less rent than is required under the regulations.

Download chapter 6 of the plan to learn more about how your income impacts what your rent will become.


The PHA must verify all information that is used to establish the family’s eligibility and level of assistance and is required to obtain written authorization from the family in order to collect the information. Applicants and program participants must cooperate with the verification process as a condition of receiving assistance. The PHA must not pass on the cost of verification to the family.

The PHA will follow the verification guidance provided by HUD in Notice PIH 2010-19 and any subsequent guidance issued by HUD. This chapter summarizes those requirements and provides supplementary PHA policies.

Download chapter 7 to learn more about the verification process.

Leasing & Inspections

Public housing leases are the contractual basis of the legal relationship between the PHA and the tenant. All units must be occupied pursuant to a dwelling lease agreement that complies with HUD regulations.

HUD regulations require the PHA to inspect each dwelling unit prior to move-in, at move-out, and annually during the period of occupancy. In addition, the PHA may conduct additional inspections in accordance with PHA policy.

Download chapter 8 to learn more about leasing and inspection.


The PHA is required to reexamine each family’s income and composition periodically, and to adjust the family’s rent accordingly. PHAs must adopt policies for conducting annual and interim reexaminations that are consistent with regulatory requirements, and must conduct reexaminations in accordance with such policies [24 CFR 960.257(c)].

The frequency with which the PHA must reexamine the income and composition of a family depends on whether the family pays income-based rent or flat rent. HUD requires the PHA to offer all families the choice of paying income-based rent or flat rent at least annually. The PHA’s policies for offering families a choice of rents are located in Chapter 6.

Download chapter 9 to learn more about annual and interim examinations.

Pets Including Service Animals

This chapter explains the PHA’s policies on the keeping of pets and describes any criteria or standards pertaining to the policies. The rules adopted are reasonably related to the legitimate interest of the PHA to provide a decent, safe and sanitary living environment for all tenants, and to protect and preserve the physical condition of the property, as well as the financial interest of the PHA.

Download chapter 10 to learn more about pet policies including service animals.

Community Service

This chapter explains HUD regulations requiring PHAs to implement a community service program for all nonexempt adults living in public housing.

Download chapter 11 to learn more about community service programs including both requirements and implementation.

Tenant Transfer

The PHA may require the tenant to move from the unit under some circumstances. There are also emergency circumstances under which alternate accommodations for the tenant must be provided, that may or may not require a transfer.

The tenant may also request a transfer, such as a request for a new unit as a reasonable accommodation.
The PHA must have specific policies in place to deal with acceptable transfer requests.

Download chapter 12 to learn about tenant transfer policy.

Lease Termination

Either party to the dwelling lease agreement may terminate the lease in accordance with the terms of the lease. A public housing lease is different from a private dwelling lease in that the family’s rental assistance is tied to their tenancy. When the family moves from their public housing unit, they lose their rental assistance. Therefore, there are additional safeguards to protect the family’s tenancy in public housing.

Likewise, there are safeguards to protect HUD’s interest in the public housing program. The PHA has the authority to terminate the lease because of the family’s failure to comply with HUD regulations, for serious or repeated violations of the terms of the lease, and for other good cause. HUD regulations also specify when termination of the lease is mandatory by the PHA.

When determining PHA policy on terminations of the lease, the PHA must consider state and local landlord-tenant laws in the area where the PHA is located. Such laws vary from one location to another, and these variances may be either more or less restrictive than federal law or HUD regulation.

Download chapter 13 to learn about lease termination by either party as well as notification requirements.

Filing A Grievance

When the PHA makes a decision that has a negative impact on an applicant family, the family is often entitled to appeal the decision. For applicants, the appeal takes the form of an informal hearing. HUD regulations do not provide a structure for or requirements regarding informal hearings for applicants (except with regard to citizenship status, to be covered in Part II). This part discusses the PHA policies necessary to respond to applicant appeals through the informal hearing process.

Download chapter 14 to learn about filing grievances and informal hearing procedures for applicants and public housing residents.

Program Integrity

The PHA is committed to ensuring that funds made available to the PHA are spent in accordance with HUD requirements.

Chapter 15 covers HUD and PHA policies designed to prevent, detect, investigate and resolve instances of program abuse or fraud. It also describes the actions that will be taken in the case of unintentional errors and omissions.

Download chapter 15 to learn about preventing and detecting program abuse as well as corrective measures.

Program Administration

This chapter discusses administrative policies and practices that are relevant to the activities covered in this ACOP. The policies are discussed in seven parts as described below:

  • Part I: Setting Utility Allowances. This part describes how utility allowances are established and revised. Also discussed are the requirements to establish surcharges for excess consumption of PHA-furnished utilities.
  • Part II: Establishing Flat Rents . This part describes the requirements and policies related to establishing and updating flat rent amounts.
  • Part III: Repayment of Family Debts. This part contains policies for recovery of monies that have been underpaid by families, and describes the circumstances under which the PHA will offer repayment agreements to families. Also discussed are the consequences for failure to make payments in accordance with a repayment agreement.
  • Part IV: Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS). This part describes the PHAS indicators, how PHAs are scored under PHAS, and how those scores affect a PHA.
  • Part V: Record Keeping. All aspects of the program involve certain types of record-keeping. This part outlines the privacy rights of applicants and participants and record retention policies the PHA will follow.
  • Part VI: Reporting and Record Keeping for Children with Environmental Intervention Blood Lead Level. This part describes the PHA’s reporting responsibilities related to children with environmental intervention blood lead levels that are living in public housing.
  • Part VII: Violence against Women Act (VAWA): Notification, Documentation, and Confidentiality. This part contains key terms used in VAWA and describes requirements related to notifying families about their rights and responsibilities under VAWA; requesting documentation from victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; and maintaining the confidentiality of information obtained from victims.

Download chapter 16 to learn about the various program administrative topics described above.