A summary of Maine Landlord Tenant Laws based on state law statutes as they apply to residential lease agreements executed between landlords and tenants.
Required Disclosures (by Landlords)
Utilities: No landlord may lease or offer to lease a dwelling unit in a multiunit residential building where the expense of furnishing electricity to the common areas or other area not within the unit is the sole responsibility of the tenant in that unit, unless both parties to the lease have agreed in writing that the tenant will pay for such costs in return for a stated reduction in rent or other specified fair consideration that approximates the actual cost of electricity to the common areas. (14 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 6024)
Energy Efficiency: Landlord must provide to potential tenants a residential energy efficiency disclosure statement in accordance with Title 35-A, section 10006, subsection 1, that includes, but is not limited to, information about the energy efficiency of the property. Before a tenant or lessee enters into a contract or pays a deposit to rent a property, the landlord must provide the statement to the tenant, obtain the tenant’s signature on the statement, and sign the statement. The landlord must retain the signed statement for at least 7 years. (14 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 6030-C)
Radon: By 2012 and every ten years thereafter, landlord must test for radon and disclose to prospective and existing tenants the date and results of the test and the risks of radon, using a disclosure form prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services (tenant must sign acknowledgment of receipt). (14 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 6030-D)
Bedbug Information: Before renting a dwelling unit, landlord must disclose to a prospective tenant if an adjacent unit or units are currently infested with or are being treated for bedbugs. Upon request from a tenant or prospective tenant, landlord must disclose the last date that the dwelling unit the landlord seeks to rent or an adjacent unit or units were inspected for a bedbug infestation and found to be free of a bedbug infestation. (14 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 6021-A)
Smoking Policy: Landlord must give tenant written disclosure stating whether smoking is prohibited on the premises, allowed on the entire premises, or allowed in limited areas of the premises. If the landlord allows smoking in limited areas on the premises, the notice must identify the areas on the premises where smoking is allowed. Disclosure must be in the lease or separate written notice, landlord must disclose before tenant signs a lease or pays a deposit, and must obtain a written acknowledgment of notification from the tenant. (14 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 6030-E)
Security Deposit: Upon request by the tenant, landlord must disclose orally or in writing the account number and the name of the institution where the security deposit is being held. (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, §§ 6031 to 6038)
Security Deposit Limit
Landlords may charge the equivalent of two months’ rent for a security deposit.
Deadline for Returning Security Deposit
The security deposit must be returned within 30 days (if tenancy was under a written agreement) or within 21 days (if it’s a tenancy at-will) after the tenant has vacated.
Note: The security deposit laws do not apply to a rental unit that is part of a structure with five or fewer units when one is occupied by the landlord.
Small Claims Lawsuits
A landlord-tenant case may be filed in small claims court as long as the total amount be sought doesn’t exceed $6,000.
Late fees can only be charged if the tenant was notified before the start of tenancy and the rent is 15 days late. The maximum charged cannot exceed 4% of the rent that is due for 30 days.
At least a 45 day advance notice (submitted in writing) is required to increase rent under a month-to-month tenancy. Longer term leases must spell out their own rent amount terms in order to be enforceable.
Tenant’s Right to Withhold Rent
Only if the landlord (after properly being notified of a problem affecting the habitability of the unit or the health and safety of its occupants) fails to fix the problem within a reasonable amount of time, can a tenant elect to withhold rent or fix the problem and deduct labor and material costs from the next rent payment.
Termination and Eviction
An unconditional 7 day notice to quit can be used for (tenants at will) violations of law relating to the tenancy, substantial damage to the premises, maintaining a nuisance, or causing the dwelling to be unfit for human habitation.
A conditional 7 day notice to cure or quit must be used for all other tenants and lease violations.
Access to Property
In order to gain access to the rental, a 24 hour notice must be given to the tenant.
When the mutual residence is jointly owned or jointly leaded or when one party has a duty to support the other or their minor children and that party is the sole owner or lessee, the court may grant possession of the residence to one party, excluding the other, or allow the party with the duty to support to provide suitable alternative housing.
Maine Lease Agreement
Maine Landlord-Tenant Law Statutes
Maine Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, §§ 6001 to 6046.