Maine Landlord Tenant Law: FAQs
Let’s understand Maine landlord tenant law and regulations through the following –
Are there rent control/rent stabilization policies or laws in Maine?
The state of Maine has not established rent control or stabilization practices.
What is the maximum amount I can collect as a security deposit?
A landlord shall not demand or receive a security deposit in excess of 2 months’ rent.
Do I need to pay interest on the security deposit?
No, the landlord does not need to pay interest on the security deposit.
Are there requirements for where a security deposit must be held, for example, in a separate escrow account?
Yes, the security deposit must be held in a separate escrow account.
My tenant has moved out, what do I do with their security deposit?
The landlord must return the full security deposit within 21 days if not stated in the lease. If the lease specifies in writing that the security deposit will be returned within 30 days then 30 days after lease termination the security deposit may be returned. If there is cause for retaining the security deposit or any portion of it, the landlord shall provide the tenant with a written statement itemizing the reasons for the retention along with a full payment of the difference between the security deposit and the amount retained to the tenant’s last known address.
What is a common problem where security deposits are concerned?
At times landlords may try claiming deductions for items that are often characterized by the court as normal wear and tear. This situation may be prevented by realistically evaluating each deduction, providing proof of damage as well as including repair receipts and pictures.
May I charge a late rent or a returned payment fee?
According to Maine regulation a rent payment is late if it is not made within 15 days from the time the payment is due. It is only after such time that a landlord may assess a penalty no more than 4% of the amount due for 1 month.
Landlords may charge tenants a fee not to exceed $50 for a returned payment. The tenant is liable and subject to civil penalties if no payment is made.
- Landlords must give notice that the check has been dishonored. The notice must state to whom the check was payable, the amount, date, and number of the check, and the name of the bank on which the check is drawn.
- The notice must also contain a warning that failure to pay within 10 days will subject the tenant to additional costs which include court costs, processing charges incurred by the landlord, interest at the rate of 12% per year from the date of failed payment, and attorney’s fees.
How can I end a Maine lease agreement?
Unless otherwise specified within the lease, or if a tenant is a tenant at will; (a tenant without a written lease) landlords or tenants must give 30 day advance notice prior to lease termination.
What are the Landlord’s legal rights when a tenant remains after a lease has ended or terminated?
A landlord has 7 days to file an action, otherwise it turns into a tenancy at will which requires 30 days notice to terminate.
Are there circumstances where I am required to release a tenant from a lease agreement?
A landlord may be forced to release a tenant from a contractual agreement when the dwelling unit or premise is damaged and/or destroyed by fire or casualty not caused by the tenant, deeming the rental property unlivable, or If the tenant is called to active military duty. Additionally, a tenant may seek release from a rental agreement with the court when a landlord does not abide by the state’s landlord obligations.
How long does the eviction process take?
As with any legal matter, exact timing is almost impossible as it depends on many factors. Overall, with no complications, the eviction process usually takes approximately 4-5 weeks.
Can I require my tenants to obtain renter’s insurance?
Landlords may require tenants to obtain rental insurance.
How do I tell if my tenant has “skipped” out of the apartment?
Often times it’s best to look for the obvious, such as removal of personal goods, whether or not the tenant has come back to the premises at any time during a one week period, and simply no food in the refrigerator. It’s extremely important to document all of the “proof” gathered in order to determine abandonment. When in doubt, if payment of rent has not been made, the landlord may always file for eviction.
Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?
A landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the Lease.
Do I have to give the tenant notice before I enter the rental property?
The landlord shall have the right to enter the leased premises at reasonable times and hours, after 24 hours notice has been given to the tenant, unless in cases of emergency.
In Maine, how much advance notice must a landlord provide a renter before they vacate?
The tenant must receive either a 30-day or 7-day written notice of termination from the landlord, or they can combine both into one notice. Any notification must inform the tenant of their legal opportunity to challenge the eviction. It is referred to as a “Notice to Quit.”
What are the rights of the tenant without a lease in Maine?
A “tenant at will” is someone who rents without a lease. For eviction, the landlord must provide the tenant with either a 30-day or 7-day written notice before they vacate the property; they may even combine both of these notices into one. Any notice must inform the tenant of their legal option to challenge the eviction in court. A “Notice to Quit” is what is used to describe this.
30-day written notice
With 30 days’ notice, the landlord has the right to evict the tenant for nearly any cause or no reason at all.
If a landlord is evicting a tenant out of “retaliation” or “illegal discrimination,” the renter may be able to stop the eviction.
The notice cannot end the tenancy before the final day of rent payment, whichever comes later. For instance, the notice period cannot end before June 30th if the rent is paid through the end of June. The notice must also allow them a full 30 days to respond.
7-day written notice
The landlord must have a justification and provide it in writing if they wish to evict a tenant with a 7-day notice. If you are a tenant at will (no lease), one of the following must be true:
- You significantly destroyed the unit and did not make repairs.
- To other tenants or neighbors, you have been a “nuisance.” (Examples: You argue with your neighbors, keep them up late, or wreck their property.)
- The unit is now inhabitable or unfit for habitation due to your actions.
- You’ve changed your door locks and won’t provide your landlord with a spare set of keys.
- Rent arrears of at least seven days exist.
What is the most a landlord can raise the rent in Maine?
For the calendar year 2023, the permitted increase percentage is 7.0%. For 2022, the permitted increase percentage was 4.3%.
Can a landlord enter without permission in Maine?
Not at all. The tenant must be given “reasonable notice” if the landlord wishes to enter the rental unit to perform non-emergency repairs or examine the dwelling. This implies giving at least a day’s notice.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. The law is subject to change due to both legislation and court decisions. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue. An attorney client relationship is not created by the presentation of this information.
Feel free to post questions about Maine laws in our Local Law Forum, and view our other Maine lease resources here.
When a tenant occupied home is rented and a 30 day notice to vacate or quit, is required, does the 30 days begin with the date written on the notice, or the date of receipt provided by the Post Office?