Maine Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on Maine landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to Maine landlord tenant statutes.

ME Landlord Tenant Law

  • Maine Revised Statutes Title 14, Part 7, Chapter 710 - Rental Property
  • Maine Revised Statutes Title 14, Party 7, Chapter 709, Subchapter 1 - Residential Landlords and Tenants

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging around $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

In addition, Maine landlord tenant law disallows landlords from discriminating against someone as a renter because of his or her age, ancestry or sexual orientation.

However if the dwelling has four or less rental units and the landlord lives in one of them, then he or she won't have to follow the above Fair Housing laws.  12 M.R.S. § 4581.(4)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

What Landlord Must Disclose

Before entering into a rental agreement, Maine landlord tenant law requires the landlord to disclose the following to the tenant:

  • Bedbug Infestation: The landlord must inform prospective tenants if an adjacent unit is infested with bedbugs or is being treated for it. If the tenant requests for it, the landlord also has to disclose when the property and adjacent units were last inspected for bedbugs.  14 M.R.S. § 6021-A
  • Energy Consumption: If a prospective tenant is paying for utility costs, he or she can request for the property's energy consumption and costs of the property during the last 12 months.  14 M.R.S. § 6030-C
  • Smoking Policy: The landlord has to inform prospective tenants whether tobacco smoking is allowed on the property. If smoking is allowed, the landlord must state where are the smoking areas.  14 M.R.S. § 6030-E
  • Lead Paint: If the property was built before 1978, the landlord must inform prospective tenants if the property contains lead-based paint. In addition, the landlord has to give them a pamphlet of Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home.  Health and Safety Code § 17920.10

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to Maine landlord tenant law 14 M.R.S. § 6030, your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • dismiss or limit the liability of the landlord or landlord's agent when they have failed in their duties - See Landlord Duties and Responsibilities below
  • make the tenant pay for the landlord's attorney fees (unless ordered by the courts)
  • allow the tenant's possessions to be held as collateral for any amount owed to the landlord
  • make the tenant acknowledge that the terms and conditions of the rental agreement are fair and reasonable

For government subsidized apartments, the rental agreement cannot disallow the lawful ownership and usage of firearms and ammunition  14 M.R.S. § 6030-F

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Security Deposit

*The following Maine security deposit laws do NOT apply to rental units in landlord-occupied buildings with five or less dwellings.

According to Maine landlord tenant law, the landlord can ask for up to two month's rent as security deposit.  14 M.R.S. § 6032

Receiving Cash Payments

The landlord must give the tenant a written receipt for every rent payment and security deposit that is paid in cash. This receipt and cash payment is to be exchanged at the same time.  14 M.R.S. § 6022

If the rent or deposit are being paid in multiple cash installments, a separate receipt has to be given for each installment.

Maine landlord tenant law requires all cash receipts to contain the following:

  • Payment date
  • Amount paid
  • Person that payment is intended for
  • Time period that payment is intended for
  • Whether payment is for rent or security deposit
  • Name and signature of person collecting payment

Holding Security Deposit

Maine landlord tenant law requires the landlord to hold the security deposit in a trust account of a bank or savings loan association. While the landlord cannot combine the security deposit with other types of funds, he or she can hold security deposits from multiple tenants in a single account.  14 M.R.S. § 6038

If the tenant wants to know, the landlord has to disclose where the deposit is held (institution name and account number).

If the landlord fails to follow Maine landlord tenant law for holding security deposit, the tenant can sue the landlord for actual damages or $500 or one month's rent (whichever amount is the highest) PLUS court costs. In addition, the courts may ask the landlord to pay for the tenant's attorney fees.

Deductions and Returns

Maine landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.

Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under Maine landlord tenant law) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Utility bills owed (to landlord)
  • Storage and disposal costs of tenant's abandoned belongings

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.  14 M.R.S. § 6033.(1)

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 30 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing.  14 M.R.S. § 6033.(2)

Once a tenancy at will terminates, the landlord has to return the security deposit within 21 days.

If the landlord fails to give an itemized list of deductions (in writing) OR return the deposit within the above deadlines, he or she shall not be allowed to keep any security deposit. In this case, the tenant can inform the landlord that he or she intends to sue the landlord for wrongful withholding of security deposit in seven days.  14 M.R.S. § 6033.(3)

If the landlord fails to return the full deposit amount within seven days, the tenant can sue the landlord for double the amount of deposit wrongfully withheld PLUS court costs and attorney fees.  14 M.R.S. § 6034.(2)

If Property is Sold

Once the property ownership is transferred, the new owner will be responsible for refunding any security deposit or prepaid rent to the tenant (at the end of the tenancy). Therefore the new owner should make sure that the previous owner transfers all security deposits and prepaid rents along with the property.  14 M.R.S. § 6035

The previous owner is no longer responsible for the tenancy once ALL three conditions are met:

  1. The previous owner makes a proper transfer of all security deposits and prepaid rents to the new owner
  2. The previous owner informs the tenant in writing that the property is being sold
  3. The new owner and tenant enters into a new agreement on the condition and contents of the property

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Portland, Maine ME

Maine Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

The tenant has to pay the rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.
   
By default, rent is payable once the tenancy begins and shall be paid on the same day of every month. Rent is to be collected at the rental property.

Late Rent

According to Maine landlord tenant law, a rent payment is late if it isn't paid 15 days after it is due.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent fees, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. If the rental agreement allows a late fee, the amount cannot exceed 4% monthly rent.  14 M.R.S. § 6028

Raising Rent

According to the Maine Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord can choose to raise the rent by any amount as long as the property is safe and habitable.  14 M.R.S. § 6016

the landlord has to inform the tenant of a rent increase at least 45 days in advance.  14 M.R.S. § 6015

The tenant can then choose to pay the higher rent or move out. If the tenant chooses to leave, he or she should give the landlord a 30 day notice to terminate tenancy in writing.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The Maine Landlord Tenant Act requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:

  • Heating: Maintain indoor temperatures of at least 68°F for the property  14 M.R.S. § 6021.(6),(7)
  • Bedbug Infestation: Inspect property for bedbugs within five days after tenant informs of a possible infestation. If bedbugs are found, contact pest control agent with 10 days to treat infestation  14 M.R.S. § 6021-A.(2)(a),(b)
  • Lead Paint: Inform the tenant of possible lead hazards before repairing, renovating or remodeling a property built before 1978  14 M.R.S. § 6030.(b)
  • Radon Testing: Test property air for radon every 10 years if requested by tenant  14 M.R.S. § 6030-D

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

Maine landlord tenant law also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition:

  • Bedbug control: Inform the landlord of any possible bedbug infestation as soon as possible.  14 M.R.S. § 6021-A.(3)(a)

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

If the landlord fails to maintain the property AND the repairs cost less than half month's rent, the tenant can make repairs and deduct the cost from rent. If the monthly rent is less than $1000, the tenant can deduct repair costs of up to $500 from the rent.  14 M.R.S. § 6026.(1)

The tenant has to inform the landlord of the problem in writing and that he or she intends to fix it at the landlord's expense. If the landlord fails to make repairs within 14 days (or as soon as possible in an emergency), the tenant can hire professionals to make repairs and deduct the costs from his or her rent (after submitting an itemized statement to the landlord).

If Landlord Fails to Provide Essential Services

If the landlord fails to provide utilities (such as heat, water, electricity, plumbing or sanitation), the tenant can pay for utilities and deduct the cost from rent.  14 M.R.S. § 6024-A

In addition, the tenant may also sue the landlord for actual damages (amount paid for utility) plus court costs. The courts may also ask the landlord to pay for the tenant's attorney fees.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to Maine landlord tenant law 14 M.R.S. § 6025.(1), the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:

  • Performing property maintenance or repairs
  • Supplying essential (or mutually agreed) services and utilities
  • Inspecting property for damages
  • Inspecting property for bedbugs and treating bedbug infestations  14 M.R.S. § 6021-A.(3)(b)
  • Showing property to prospective buyers, tenants or contractors

In the above situations, the landlord should inform the tenant at least 24 hours in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours.  14 M.R.S. § 6025.(2)

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

According to Maine landlord tenant law, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations:

  • Emergencies such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion  14 M.R.S. § 6025.(2)

Tenant Changing Locks

If the tenant wants to change the locks to the property, he or she has to inform the landlord and give the landlord a duplicate key within 48 hours.  14 M.R.S. § 6025.(1)

If the tenant fails to give the landlord a duplicate key, the landlord can terminate the tenancy with a seven day notice to quit.  14 M.R.S. § 6025.(3)

If Landlord Enters Property Illegally

The landlord must have a valid reason and obtain the tenant's permission (whenever required) to enter the property.

If the landlord fails to do so or harasses the tenant, the tenant can sue the landlord for actual damages plus attorney fees AND obtain a court order that stops the landlord from entering the property illegally or harassing the tenant.  14 M.R.S. § 6025.(3)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Subletting

There are no specific Maine landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Augusta, Maine ME

Augusta, Maine ME

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Maine landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit before terminating a tenancy.
   
For a tenancy at will, you must give this notice at least 30 days before the termination date.  14 M.R.S. § 6002

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Tenant is a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking

See below

Property damage due to fire, disaster or unavoidable accident

Immediate

High radon levels within property (4 pCi/l or higher)

30 days

Tenant is a Victim of Domestic Abuse, Sexual Assault or Stalking

If the tenant is a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking, he or she can terminate the tenancy (without penalty) by giving the landlord a written seven day notice to quit. If the rental term is one year or longer (e.g. year to year tenancy, fixed term lease), a longer 30 day notice to quit shall be required.  14 M.R.S. § 6001.(6)

This notice must include one of the following:

  • Statement signed by a health provider, law enforcement officer or Maine sexual assault counselor
  • Copy of protection order from abuse or harassment complaint
  • Copy of police report describing an act of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking

Property Damage Due to Fire, Disaster or Unavoidable Accident

If the property is badly damaged by fire, disasters or (unavoidable) accidents, the tenant can immediately move out and stop paying rent. The tenant must inform the landlord that he or she intends to terminate the tenancy, and the tenancy will be terminated once the tenant moves out.  14 M.R.S. § 6010.(4)

After the tenant moves out, the landlord must return the security deposit (after any deductions) to the tenant. The tenant won't have to pay rent starting from the date of the fire or natural disaster, so the landlord must also return any prepaid rent to the tenant.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Eviction

According to Maine landlord tenant law 14 M.R.S. § 6002.(1), the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

7 days

Tenant or related person caused substantial property damage

7 days

Tenant or related person caused a nuisance on property

7 days

Tenant abused, assaulted or stalked another tenant

7 days

Tenant changed locks to property and didn't give landlord new keys

7 days

Illegal squatter on property

7 days

High radon levels within property (4 pCi/l or higher)

30 days

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If rent is overdue for seven or more days, the landlord can send the tenant a seven day written notice to terminate the tenancy. If the tenant pays all rents owed within seven days (of receiving this notice), he or she may continue staying on the property.  14 M.R.S. § 6002.(1)(c)

Tenant Changed Locks to Property And Didn't Give Landlord New Keys

If the tenant changed the locks to the property but didn't give the landlord a duplicate key within 48 hours, the landlord can send the tenant a seven day written notice to terminate the tenancy.  14 M.R.S. § 6025.(3)

Unlawful Eviction

According to Maine landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing.

If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with unlawful methods or shuts off utilities, the tenant can sue the landlord for actual damages or $250 (which is higher). In addition, the courts may ask the landlord to pay for the tenant's court costs and attorney fees.  14 M.R.S. § 6014

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Abandonment

When is it Abandonment?

There are no specific Maine landlord tenant laws on when the property is considered abandoned by the tenant.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When is the property considered abandoned by the tenant? - Tenant hasn't paid rent for X days, Tenant has been absent from the property for X days (without informing the landlord)
  • After the property is abandoned, does the tenant have to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant?

Dealing with Abandoned Belongings

The landlord must deliver a written notice to the tenant by first class mail stating if the tenant does not respond within seven days, the landlord shall dispose of the tenant's abandoned belongings. This notice must include an item by item list of the tenant's belongings.  14 M.R.S. § 6013

If the tenant responds within seven days, the landlord shall store the belongings for 14 more days (from the day the notice was mailed). If the tenant retrieves his or her belongings within 14 days, the landlord has to return them without making the tenant pay for storage costs, damages or rent owed.

If the tenant fails to respond within seven days OR retrieve his or her belongings within 14 days, the landlord can take one or more of the following actions:

  • Make the tenant pay for all storage costs, damages and rent owed before returning the belongings
  • Sell the belongings at fair market value to pay for storage costs, damages and rent owed. Any leftover revenue should be paid to the Treasurer of State
  • Dispose of belongings with no market value

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Resources

Maine Landlord Tenant Law: Maine Residential Landlords and Tenants Act

Maine Landlord Tenant Handbook: Consumer Rights When You Rent an Apartment

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Like and Share ☺