Grievance Procedure for Public Housing Tenant



Margaret L. Kinnear
Atlanta Legal Aid Society

Last Revised: May 25, 2004

This document tells you the following:

  • How do I file for a grievance?
  • How do I ask for a grievance hearing?
  • How do I get ready for the grievance hearing?
  • What is a settlement?
  • What goes on during the grievance hearing?


When you have a problem with your housing authority, you must let them know that you are not satisfied. The grievance procedure is your official complaint process. It is a simple process. When you have a problem make a complaint to your housing community manager.

It's best to make a written complaint. The manager will then hold an informal discussion with you. This is your chance to tell your side of the story. Keep your explanation short and to the point. After this informal discussion, your project manager puts together a summary and sends you a copy. At this point, the problem may be resolved. If not, you can request a grievance hearing.


If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your informal discussion, you may request or file for a grievance hearing. You must make your request in writing. You are allowed a certain number of days to make this request. If you do not, you may lose your right to a hearing, so act quickly. The housing authority will notify you about the date and time of your hearing.


1. Get a copy of the rules for the hearing from your manager.

2. Review your file. The manager must let you read your file and make copies.

3. Pull together papers you have that help you (like rent receipts or proof of income from an employer).

4. Decide if you want someone to represent you. You may represent yourself or you may have an attorney or paralegal represent you. If someone does represent you, tell that person everything about your case. This is so they can help you get ready for the hearing.


You and your manager may be able to solve the disagreement before the grievance hearing. This is called a settlement and must be put into writing and signed by both parties, Your housing authority can accept a settlement even if you have already requested a hearing.


Your grievance will be heard by a grievance committee, panel or hearing officer. This depends on how your housing authority's grievance procedure works. In some housing authorities, if a tenant does not appear for the hearing, they lose automatically. In other housing authorities, the panel or officer may postpone the hearing. Sometimes grievance panels or officers may even decide that by not showing, the tenant gives up the right to the hearing.

Be sure you are present and on time for your hearing. If you cannot go to the hearing or will be late, call ahead to explain why.

Except in eviction cases, the tenant usually goes first. You must explain why you requested a hearing and what solution you expect. Keep your statement brief and to the point. Then you may present witnesses and other evidence-any person, information or documents that support your explanation. This can be repair receipts, photos of damages or neighbors who know firsthand about your situation.

The housing authority then presents its case with witnesses and other evidence. You and the housing authority may cross-examine one another's witnesses. The hearing committee, panel or officer will ask questions of you, the housing authority and witnesses. Your case may be decided at the end of the hearing or several days later. However, a decision should be made and given to you within a reasonable number of days. Check with your housing authority about the time limit for grievance hearing decisions.


The decision is based only on what is said or presented at the hearing. After the hearing, a written decision will be given to the housing authority. The housing authority will give you a copy. A copy is also put in your housing authority file.

A final decision in your favor is "binding" on the housing authority. This means they must follow the decision. If the final decision is in favor of the housing authority, you can file an appeal.

Some housing authorities have panels to look over hearings for appeals. Check with your housing authority about the procedure for appealing an unfavorable decision.


The grievance procedure helps take care of problems between tenants and the housing authority. It's a way to complain about problems with your housing authority.

It is very easy. When you have a problem, write your project manager. You can have a meeting, which may solve the problem. If not, you can request a grievance hearing (always put this in writing and keep a copy).

Remember that each step has time limits. Always check with your housing authority about its grievance rules.

You can get a copy of the grievance procedure rules from the manager's office. They should be posted in each manager's office. If you ask for a copy but do not get one, call the Atlanta Legal Aid Society or Georgia Legal Services Program office nearest you. If you meet client eligibility requirements, they may be able to help you.

For Clayton, Cobb, Dekalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett Counties, call Atlanta Legal Aid Society: (404) 524-5811

For all other counties, call Georgia Legal Services Program: 1-800-498-9469

Margaret L. Kinnear
Atlanta Legal Aid Society

Last Revised: May 25, 2004

Last Review and Update: Sep 30, 2010