The Full Guide on Maine Landlord Tenant Law, Rights, & Regulations [2023]

Learn the ins and outs of Main’s landlord-tenant laws in this comprehensive guide covering crucial topics like rent payments, evictions, and security deposits.

By
Rachel Robinson
|
Last Updated
September 18, 2023
The Full Guide on Maine Landlord Tenant Law, Rights, & Regulations [2023]

In the Pine Tree State of Maine, landlords and tenants need to follow local and state rental laws that impact their rights, responsibilities, and the landlord-tenant relationship. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but these laws can be tricky to comprehend, challenging even the savviest landlord or renter.

To make it easier for both parties to understand Main’s rental laws, we’ve created this comprehensive guide. It covers topics ranging from tenant screening and rental agreements to eviction procedures and security deposit regulations. This guide will provide landlords and tenants with a firm grasp of the laws outlined in MRS Title 14 Chapter 709.

Landlords can discover how to protect their rental properties and maintain positive interactions with tenants. Additionally, tenants will learn valuable information about their fundamental rights while renting a home.

Let's get started!

Maine landlord tenant law fast facts

Maine landlord responsibilities and rights

Rights

Maine law grants landlords rights that allow them to operate a successful rental business protected from legal issues. Some of their main rights include:

  • Collecting rent payments when due
  • Collecting a security deposit to cover unforeseen costs like damage beyond wear and tear at the end of the tenancy
  • Pursuing a legal eviction if the tenant breaches the rental agreement

Responsibilities

Maine rental owners also have a set of obligations they must uphold during a tenancy to ensure a safe living environment for renters. Their top duties are as follows:

  • Providing renters with a rental unit that meets basic health and safety requirements and includes amenities like carbon monoxide detectors, hot water, and heating/AC
  • Making repairs within a “reasonable” time after receiving written notice from a tenant
  • Complying with security deposit and other state regulations

Maine tenant responsibilities and rights

Rights

Maine law also provides renters with fundamental rights that ensure their safety and legal protection during the length of their tenancy. Their rights include:

  • Living in a safe and habitable rental unit that meets local health and safety codes
  • Having repairs made in a “reasonable” time after providing written notice
  • Taking legal action against landlords for failing to make repairs and committing other lease violations

Responsibilities

Same as landlords, Maine tenants also have responsibilities to uphold while residing in a rental unit. They must:

  • Pay rent on time
  • Keep the unit in a safe and habitable condition
  • Make small repairs when necessary
  • Not disturbing neighbors or other renters

Maine landlord tenant law through the rental cycle

Maine tenant screening and rental application laws

Maine laws governing tenant screening and rental applications protect tenants from discrimination and ensure fair and equal access to rental housing. Additionally, the state caps how much landlords can charge for a rental application fee.

Regarding the tenant screening process, landlords can run background checks including criminal history and credit reports, but only if the prospective tenant has provided consent. Furthermore, some Maine municipalities may have written their own laws regulating what landlords can and cannot ask in regard to criminal backgrounds.

Maine lease agreement laws

In Maine, lease agreements can be either written or oral. However, it is always recommended to have a written lease agreement, as it outlines the terms and conditions of the rental agreement, which can help avoid disputes between landlords and tenants.

Beyond standard information that should be included in a lease agreement, Maine also requires landlords to include specific disclosures like radon, smoking policy, and security deposit disclosure.

To update a lease agreement, landlords must provide a 45-day notice to the tenant before making any changes. However, in 2023, Maine now requires landlords to provide a 75-day notice for rent increases of 10% or more.

Maine security deposit laws

Maine landlords are allowed to collect a security deposit to cover unforeseen costs like damage beyond common wear and tear at the end of a lease. Landlords cannot charge more than the equivalent of 2 months’ rent for the deposit, but for mobile homes, the limit is three months’ rent.

Additional key Maine security deposit laws include:

  • Landlords must provide the tenant with a receipt for security deposits made in cash.
  • Landlords only have to provide interest for mobile homes.
  • Security deposits must be held in a bank or another financial institution.

For a fixed-term lease, Maine landlords have 30 days to return a tenant’s security deposit after a lease ends. For at-will tenancies, the landlord has only 21 days. Allowable deductions include unpaid rent, utility bills, cleaning costs, damage exceeding normal wear and tear, and costs of storing and disposing of unclaimed property.

If the landlord fails to comply with the notice period or wrongfully withholds funds, the tenant can sue for twice the amount wrongfully withheld, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.

Maine rent laws

Maine does not have state-wide rent control laws, but the state allows cities and towns to create their own laws. This means that not all landlords have the ability to charge any amount for rent or increase rent whenever they choose. For those who do, they cannot increase rent during the lease period, unless the lease agreement allows for it.

If tenants fail to pay rent on time, landlords are allowed to charge a late fee, but not before providing a 15-day grace period. Additionally, the late fee cannot be more than 4% of the monthly rent payment.

Generally, Maine renters cannot withhold rent payments. However, they can use a portion of a rent payment to make minor repairs under the “repair and deduct” remedy.

Maine repair and maintenance laws

Similar to other states, Maine requires rental owners to supply safe and habitable properties that comply with local health and safety regulations. This includes making repairs within a “reasonable” time after receiving written notice from tenants.

If the landlord fails to make repairs in a timely manner, Maine tenants can take a few actions: sue the landlord for costs, file a court order to force the landlord to make repairs, or cancel the rental agreement altogether. They also have the option of using the “repair and deduct” remedy for minor repairs.

Maine notice of entry laws

Landlords in Maine can enter the rental property for reasons such as maintenance, inspections, and showings. Generally, they must provide at least 24 hours' notice before entering the property but do not have to provide any notice in the case of emergencies.

Maine eviction and lease termination laws

There are legal reasons landlords can evict a tenant in Maine, and depending on the reason, landlords are required to provide a specific notice period. The reasons and required notice periods for evictions in Maine include:

  • Unpaid rent: If a tenant fails to pay rent when due, the landlord may issue a written 7-day notice to quit. If the renter still does not pay, the landlord may proceed with eviction.
  • Lease violation: For lease violations, landlords are also required to issue a 7-day notice to quit. After the notice period, if the tenant has not corrected the lease violation, the landlord may begin the eviction procedure.
  • Safety violations: Landlords can issue a 7-day notice to quit to tenants who violate health, safety, or housing codes.
  • Illegal activity: Same as safety violations, landlords are required to issue a 7-day notice to quit for illegal acts committed on the property. 
  • No lease/end of lease: If tenants stay past the end of the tenancy, the landlord must provide them a 30-day notice to quit, regardless of the length of the tenancy.

Maine renters can also end the lease early for the following legal reasons:

  • Active military duty
  • Landlord harassment
  • Early termination clause
  • Uninhabitable unit

Unless the tenant can find someone to take over the lease, the tenant may be liable for paying the remainder of the rent. However, the landlord must make a reasonable effort to re-rent the property.

Additional Maine landlord tenant laws

In addition to covering topics like evictions and repairs, Maine law also covers less-addressed rental topics like landlord retaliation and housing discrimination. Become familiar with the laws below.

Housing discrimination

Federal laws protect Maine tenants from housing discrimination. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, landlords are prohibited from discriminating against potential renters based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, and disability.

If a landlord violates these laws, tenants can seek legal help and file a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission.

Landlord retaliation

Like in other states, it’s illegal for Maine landlords to retaliate against their tenants for taking protected actions like reporting the landlord to authorities for health and safety violations. Generally, raising rent, reducing utilities, or threatening evictions are considered forms of retaliation.

Mandatory disclosures

Maine landlords are required to provide renters with disclosures in the lease agreement. The disclosures include:

  • Lead-based paint: Landlords with rentals built before 1978 must provide information about lead paint concentrations.
  • Security deposit location: Landlords are required to disclose the banking institution and account number where the tenant’s security deposit is held.
  • Bed bugs: Landlords must disclose if there is an adjacent unit that is infested with bed bugs.
  • Radon gas: Landlords must provide information related to testing and mitigation of radon.
  • Common area utilities: Landlords should disclose if tenants are responsible for paying common area utilities.
  • Smoking policy: Landlords are required to clearly disclose the unit’s smoking policy
  • Late or returned check fees: Landlords must disclose if a late fee will be charged and the fee for a returned check.

Summing up: Understanding Maine landlord tenant laws

Maine’s rental laws were crafted to clearly outline the rights and duties of landlords and tenants, ensuring fairness and civility through the rental process. At their root, these laws maintain healthy landlord-tenant relationships, beneficial for all parties involved.

It’s crucial for Maine landlords to understand and follow the state’s rental statutes to protect their property investments and promote positive interactions with tenants. Likewise, tenants must understand these laws to ensure they know how and when they can assert their legal rights.

Beyond reading this guide, landlords and renters should do their due diligence in educating themselves on Maine’s laws now and into the future.

Maine landlord tenant law FAQ

What is the limit a landlord or tenant can sue for in Maine small claims court?

Small claims court is designed to handle disputes involving relatively small amounts of money in a simplified and expedited manner. In Maine, a small claims court will hear rental cases for up to $6,000. Beyond this amount, tenants should seek out an attorney for legal advice.

Is Maine considered a landlord-friendly state?

Yes, Maine is a relatively landlord-friendly state—it even ranks 12th on this list of the most landlord-friendly states. This is because, at the state level, Maine doesn’t have any rent control laws and has fewer regulations around required amenities for habitable housing. However, Maine does have laws that favor tenants like the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.

Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson has 6 years of experience in writing, editing, and SEO, specializing in rental property and real estate. She excels in market trends and landlord-tenant dynamics, producing content that drives traffic and informs. Outside of work, she enjoys climbing Colorado's granite boulders.

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