How to Keep ‘High Turn Time’ from Hobbling Your Public Housing Authority

February 19, 2018

No one managing a public housing authority wants units to remain vacant too long, a challenge known as a “high turn time.”

Having a high turn time can cause a loss of rent and public housing operating subsidy.

And since PHAs have a social mission of providing affordable housing to low-income people, it could also mean a distressed family is stuck without housing even longer.

Here are some simple steps to lower a high turn time and get units occupied in a timely manner.

Set a Goal

Most PHAs don’t share their turn goals, but start with 10 days as a baseline.

Some larger PHAs have found a need to set a 20-day key-to-key expectation.

Make sure everyone knows that goal, from property management to maintenance workers.

If a unit needs serious renovation, take it offline to protect your occupancy rates. You’ll need to ask for a waiver from HUD. Push your local field office for help.

Visual Management

If you have a high turn time, first get a visual management whiteboard that shows which units are vacant. Update it every day, so the entire team can see which units are vacant and for how many days each has been empty. You want awareness of where the unit is at all times.

You can add layers if your maintenance team breaks down a turn by steps. Your board could have the following steps as an example:

  • Unit walk
  • Unit Trash Out (Code for clean out junk leftover)
  • Clean
  • Paint
  • Replace broken or damaged items
  • Final Cleanup

Inventory Awareness

To properly turn a unit, your agency should anticipate vacancies and stock plenty of paint, carpet and common items, like lightbulbs.

A good maintenance team will do a unit walk immediately after residents move out, to look for outlier items.

Don’t let yourself find on Day 13 that you need something that takes 10 days to receive. Instead, be sure you have good vendors lined up for whatever you might need.

Bring in-House or Outsource

Larger PHAs hire to keep painters or plumbers on staff. That can be smart if you have more than 3,000 units. But if you’re closer to 500, it might not pay off.

Also, stagger staff schedules on weekends, so you don’t lose full days when a unit could be turned. Some larger PHAs stipulate in union contracts the hiring of third parties like HD Supply to work on weekends and get units ready.


Mobile inspections can save time and money.

In lieu of doing an inspection and coming back to type it in the system, do the inspection in an app and have all the data immediately go into the system. That will allow for faster ordering of supplies and parts and cut waste.

High Turn Time: Summary

  • Solving a high turn time can be complicated, but it’s important to your mission.
  • PHAs often house large families, so the turns can take longer and be costlier.
  • Consult with a CPA-based advisory firm for more help controlling costs and improving processes.

Stay informed with Aprio.

Get industry news and leading insights delivered straight to your inbox.

Stay informed with Aprio. Subscribe now.