The Rockville City Council called last week for clearer rental guidelines, tenant grievance procedures and building improvements for public housing projects run by the city housing authority.

Council member John Tyner presented a report, which was endorsed by the council, that claimed management problems and misunderstandings between the Rockville Housing Authority and tenants of David Scull Courts and Lincoln Terrace, its two low-rent housing projects, have resulted in "haphazard" maintenance and thousands of dollars in uncollected rents.

Despite recent improvements to the two projects, Tyner said, relations between tenants and managers have deteriorated.

Housing officials said some tenants damaged their apartments in retaliation for what they considered unjust evictions, the report stated.

Tyner said tenants often became upset by managers' strict enforcement and poor explanation of charges for extra usage of utilities and unusual repairs to the apartments.

"The biggest cause of concern to the tenants is the complete lack of a workable, formal grievance process," the report stated. Managers said "peer pressure" kept tenants from volunteering to serve on a grievance panel, currently composed of three administrators, according to the report.

Tyner recommended, and the council agreed, that:

* The council should appoint an ombudsman for tenant disputes.

* Tenants should form an association.

* The city should publish a guidebook explaining rental policies, maintenance procedures and explanations for charges. City Clerk Helen M. Heneghan said a tenants' handbook should be ready by spring, and the city attorney is reviewing grievance procedures that were presented to the council.

* City departments should assist the housing authority in groundskeeping.

City administrators also are studying ways to transport residents of the projects to meetings at city hall and other sites away from the projects, Heneghan said.

In other business, Mayor John R. Freeland assigned Robert Lanham, an architectural consultant, to arbitrate a dispute concerning the sale of the city-owned Dawson Farmhouse. The prospective buyer wants to use the historic structure for offices, but neighbors don't want commercial activities in their residential surroundings.