The second service provided by DHCP is the allocation of temporary or permanent network (IP) addresses to clients. The basic mechanism for the dynamic allocation of network addresses is simple: a client requests the use of an address for some period of time. The allocation mechanism (the collection of DHCP servers) guarantees not to reallocate that address within the requested time and attempts to return the same network address each time the client requests an address. In this document, the period over which a network address is allocated to a client is referred to as a "lease" . The client may extend its lease with subsequent requests. The client may issue a message to release the address back to the server when the client no longer needs the address. The client may ask for a permanent assignment by asking for an infinite lease. Even when assigning "permanent" addresses, a server may choose to give out lengthy but non-infinite leases to allow detection of the fact that the client has been retired.
In some environments it will be necessary to reassign network addresses due to exhaustion of available addresses. In such environments, the allocation mechanism will reuse addresses whose lease has expired. The server should use whatever information is available in the configuration information repository to choose an address to reuse. For example, the server may choose the least recently assigned address. As a consistency check, the allocating server SHOULD probe the reused address before allocating the address, e.g., with an ICMP echo request, and the client SHOULD probe the newly received address, e.g., with ARP.