State Rules and Regulations for Maine Rental Properties and Landlords

 

In Maine, lease agreements can be either written or oral. According to Maine law (MRS Tit. 14 Ch. 709), a lease agreement grants tenants certain rights, such as the right to habitable premises and the right to take some forms of alternative action.

Landlords also have rights, such as the right to collect rent in a timely manner and the right to be reimbursed for damages to property that exceed normal wear and tear.

Maine Official Rules and Regulations

Security Deposits in Maine

  • Standard Limit/Maximum Amount – 2 months’ rent.
  • Time Limit for Returns – 30 days.
  • Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If a Maine landlord wrongfully withholds a security deposit, then they may be liable to pay up to twice the value of the original deposit as a penalty.
  • Allowable Deductions – Unpaid rent, damages that exceed normal wear and tear, unpaid utility bills, cost of storage of abandoned property.

Lease, Rent & Fees Under Maine Law

  • Rent Is Due: As stated in the lease
  • Rent Increase Notice: Minimum 45 days’ written notice (§6015)
  • Rent Grace Period: 15 days from the date payment is due (§6028)
  • Late Fees: No more than four percent of the rent amount, and allowed only if landlord notifies tenant in writing at the time they enter into the rental agreement that a penalty not to exceed four percent of the monthly rent may be charged for the late payment of rent. (§6028)
  • Prepaid Rent: No statute
  • Returned Check Fees: Amount due, court costs, service costs, collection costs, processing charges can be recovered only if statutory notice given, or payment within 10 days of notice. (§6071)
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes, tenant is allowed to deduct from the rent an amount the tenant pays to a utility service in the event that the landlord fails to pay a utility bill that is in the landlord’s name. (§6010-A)
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes, if habitability is affected and the reasonable cost of compliance is less than $500 or an amount equal to 1/2 the monthly rent. (§6026(2))
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees: Yes, in some cases (§6034), (§6025(2))
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: Yes (§6010-A)
  • Abandonment/Early Termination Fee: No statute

Evictions in Maine

Landlords in Maine are empowered to evict tenants for the following reasons:

  1. Nonpayment of rent – If a tenant fails to pay rent, then the landlord may issue a 7-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. If the tenant still does not pay, then the landlord may pursue formal eviction proceedings.
  2. Lease violation – If a lease violation occurs then the landlord may issue a 7-Day Notice to Cure or Quit. If the terms of the notice are not met, then the landlord may proceed with formal eviction proceedings.
  3. Illegal acts – Illegal activities are handled in the same manner as material lease violations. Landlords may issue a 7-Day Notice to Quit. If the terms of the notice are not met then the landlord may file for eviction.

At-will tenants are entitled to at least 30 days’ advance notice before being asked to evict without cause. If cause is established, then eviction proceeds the same as it does for leased tenants.

It is illegal for landlords to evict tenants in retaliation or for discriminatory reasons, or for joining a tenants union, among other reasons.

Notices and Entry Under Maine Law

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: Not until after lease expiration, unless the tenant has broken a significant lease term and the lease itself states that violation of that term is a breach of the lease. (Maine Consumer Rights When You Rent an Apartment (Chapter 14.7))
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Written lease without termination or notice language: For leases that do not include a termination provision in the event of a material breach, the landlord must give minimum 30 days’ written notice that must include language advising that the tenant has the right to contest the termination in court. Landlord may also terminate with seven days’ notice for cause such as nonpayment of rent, damages, nuisance or criminal activity. Tenants may give seven days’ notice if the landlord has substantially breached a provision of the lease. (§6001(1-B) and §6002)
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Tenancy at Will: Minimum 30 days’ written notice (§6002)
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week-to-Week Lease: Minimum 30 days’ written notice (§6002)
  • Termination of Tenancy with 24 Hours Notice: No statute
  • Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute
  • Notice of Termination of Week-to-Week Leases for Nonpayment: No Statute
  • Notice of Termination for Nonpayment: Seven days’ written notice if the tenant is seven days or more late in the payment of rent. (§6002)
  • Termination for Lease Violation: Tenancy may be terminated upon seven days’ written notice if tenant, the tenant’s family or invitees of the tenant has:
    • changed the lock and refuses to provide the landlord with a duplicate key (§6025),
    • caused substantial damage to the premises that the tenant has not repaired, (§6002(1A))
    • permitted a nuisance within the premises,(§6002(1B))
    • violated or permitted a violation of the law regarding the tenancy, (§6002(1B))
    • caused the dwelling to become unfit for human habitation or has violated or permitted a violation of the law regarding the tenancy. Landlord shall indicate in the written notice the specific ground being claimed and must be able to prove any claims made in the notice. (§6002(1B))
  • Required Notice before Entry: Reasonable notice required before entry, with 24 hours being presumed to be reasonable in the absence of evidence to the contrary, and landlord shall enter only at reasonable times. (§6025(2))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes (§6025(2))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: Yes (§6025)
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Entry to premises for emergencies are excepted from statutory requirements for reasonable notice. (§6025)
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No statute (§6025)
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No (§6014(1))
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No (§6014(1A))

Mandatory Disclosures in Maine

Maine landlords are required to give 6 mandatory disclosures:

  1. Lead-based paint. Landlords that own homes built before 1978 must provide information about concentrations of lead paint.
  2. Radon presence and testing. Landlords must disclose info related to testing and mitigation of radon levels.
  3. Security deposit location. Landlords must also disclose the location and account number of the security deposit, upon the tenant’s request.
  4. Smoking policy. Landlords must clearly disclose the smoke policy for the unit.
  5. Bed bugs. Landlords must disclose if the unit or any surrounding units have ever had a bed bug problem.
  6. Energy efficiency. Upon request, Maine landlords must disclose energy efficiency information; specifically a 12-month energy consumption and cost record.

Business Licenses

Helpful Links

These resources are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Landlords and Tenants are encouraged to seek specific legal advice for any of the issues as found in this blog.

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