Maine Eviction Process
October 25, 2023
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Eviction In Maine
If you own and rent properties in the state of Maine, you are responsible for complying with Maine eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in Maine.
Maine’s eviction laws can be found at MRSA 14 § 6000-6016-A.
Eviction Process in Maine
- Landlord serves a seven-day eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves tenant the summons.
- Either party may request mediation.
- Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment.
- Tenant gets 48 hours to move out.
- Sheriff arrives to forcibly remove the tenant.
In Maine, tenants can be evicted for failing to pay rent, violating the lease (e.g., damaging the property or violating health & safety codes), or committing or threatening violence on the premises.
1. Landlord Serves a Seven-Day Eviction Notice
The first step in the Maine eviction process is serving the tenant a formal notice. If any of the above lease violations occur, the landlord must first serve a seven-day Maine eviction notice and state that the tenant has seven days to remedy or cure the violation. The presence of a “cure” period to fix the issue depends on the nature of the violation.
- Rent Demand Notice: 7 days to pay or quit. If rent is unpaid when due, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the amount of unpaid rent and late fees required to remedy the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate if they are not paid (not less than seven days after receipt of the notice) (MRSA 14 § 6002(1)).
- Lease Violation Notice: 7 days to cure or quit. If a tenant violates another lease term, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the breach and what is required to remedy it, as well as the date on which the lease will terminate if the tenant does not cure the breach (not less than seven days after receipt of the notice). This notice applies if the tenant does any of the following as per MRSA 14 § 6002(1):
- Causes minor or substantial damage to the premises
- Violates health, safety, or building codes
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 7 days to quit. This Maine notice to quit gives no opportunity to “cure” the violation and applies if the tenant does any of the following as per MRSA 14 § 6002(1):
- Perpetrates domestic violence or sexual assault
- Stalks another tenant, the landlord, or the landlord’s agent
- Commits or threatens to commit violence against a tenant, guest, landlord, employee, or agent
For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney fees.
2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
If the tenant has not cured the breach at the end of the seven days provided by the Maine eviction notice, the landlord can then file a Complaint for Residential Forcible Entry and Detainer (the eviction lawsuit) in Maine District Court in the county where the property is located (MRSA 14 § 6003).
The complaint will include the following:
- The city/town and case docket number
- The names, mailing addresses, and contact information of both parties
- The rental property address
- The basis for the eviction (e.g., nonpayment, lease violations, etc.)
- Whether the landlord served the tenant a Notice to Quit (and if yes, the date on which they did so)
- A list of any attached forms (e.g., the Notice to Quit, the lease, etc.)
- Any additional allegations in support of the landlord’s claim
- The landlord’s or landlord’s attorney’s signature
The landlord will also need to pay a filing fee of $100 at this time.
3. Court Serves Tenant the Summons
Once the complaint has been filed, the court will issue a summons to be served to the tenant. In total, there are four different court forms that must be served to the tenant:
- The complaint
- The summons
- Information sheet
- Notice regarding electronic service
The Complaint (form CV-007) is the documentation of the landlord’s original filing of the lawsuit. The Summons (form CV-034) states the day and time of the court hearing. However, a continuance may be granted for good cause shown to delay the eviction hearing (MRSA 14 § 6003). The Information Sheet (form CV 256) is a handout for tenants provided by Maine’s judicial branch and posted on their website. It includes, in plain language,
- A description of Maine’s court procedures
- A warning that failure to appear may result in a default judgement in the landlord’s favor
- A list of rental assistance programs available
- Lists of legal and housing counseling resources
- A statement that either party may request mediation on the issue
- A court-approved form to request mediation.
Lastly, the Notice Regarding Electronic Service (CR-CV-FM-255) asks the tenant if they agree to send and receive notices regarding the case via email.
These four documents should be served to the tenant personally by the sheriff at least seven days but no later than ten days before the hearing date. However, if the sheriff makes three good faith attempts on three different days but is still unsuccessful, the documents can be mailed by first-class mail and left at the tenant’s usual address. In this case, the landlord should also file an affidavit with the court demonstrating that they complied with the requirement of service (MRSA 14 § 6004).
If the tenant wants to request a recorded hearing, they must file a written answer enumerating their defenses on or before the return day (MRSA 14 § 6003).
Note that the landlord must pay a fee of $5 to obtain the summons since it requires the clerk’s signature and court seal. If the landlord has the sheriff serve the documents, the service fee will be $16 or $40 if the tenant is served in person; private process servers may charge differently (MRSA 30-A § 421(1)(C)).
4. Either Party May Request Mediation
The landlord or tenant may request mediation at any time before the hearing. The court may also refer the parties to mediation.
During mediation, the landlord and tenant meet with a neutral third party to discuss the issue and try to resolve it outside of court. They may come to a mediated agreement in writing, such as a plan for the tenant to make up missed payments or receive assistance. If no agreement is made through mediation, the court will proceed with the hearing (MRSA 14 § 6004-A).
5. Landlord and Tenant Attend Court Hearing and Receive Judgment
On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the complaint, and any evidence of the lease violation. Both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge, who will afterwards issue a judgment. If the judgment is in the landlord’s favor, the court will issue a Writ of Possession (the court order for the tenant’s removal), but not until at least seven calendar days after the judgment is entered (MRSA 14 § 6005).
The tenant has the right to appeal the judgment of the district court before the Writ of Possession is issued or 30 days from the day the judgment is entered, whichever occurs first. If the tenant chooses to appeal, they must pay into the court any unpaid rent, and the case will be transferred to the Maine Superior Court. The superior court can stay (delay) the writ’s issuance while the appeal is pending (MRSA 14 § 6008).
6. Tenant Gets 48 Hours to Move Out
The writ should be served by a sheriff or a constable for an additional fee of $16-$40 (MRSA 30-A § 421(1)(C)). If service is attempted in good faith at least three times on three different days, it may be made by mailing the writ by first-class mail and leaving a copy at the rental unit. An additional writ of possession may be issued by the clerk if the landlord requests one (MRSA 14 § 6005).
After the writ has been served, the tenant gets 48 hours to move out (MRSA 14 § 6005).
6. Sheriff Arrives to Forcibly Remove the Tenant
If the tenant has not moved out within the 48 hours after the writ is posted, they are considered an illegal trespasser. The sheriff will return to forcibly remove the tenant and their belongings from the property (MRSA 14 § 6005). The landlord will need to pay a fee of $40 for the execution of the writ (MRSA 30-A § 421(1)(C)).
Landlords in Maine are required to store tenant belongings left after an eviction (MRSA 14 § 6013). If a tenant leaves personal property on the premises, the property should be placed in storage in a safe, dry, and secured location. Then, the landlord must give notice to the tenant that their belongings are being stored by first-class mail. The notice should inform the tenant that their belongings will be held no less than seven days following the notice or 48 hours after the writ is served, whichever period is longer. The tenant can reclaim their property at any time during the seven days without paying any storage fees or other amounts, and if they respond to the notice at all, the landlord must continue to store it for at least another 14 days. However, if the tenant does not respond to the notice, the landlord can do any of the following:
- Continue to store the property at the tenant’s expense (including rental arrearages, damages, and costs of storage)
- Sell the property for a reasonable fair market price and apply the proceeds to the cost of storage (any remaining balance belongs to the Treasurer of State)
- Dispose of any property with no reasonable fair market value
Evicting a Squatter in Maine
A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria. In Maine, squatters must have lived in the property for 20 consecutive years to invoke Maine squatters rights and claim right of possession (MRSA 14 § 801). Their possession must also be:
- Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner
- Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property
- Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there.
- Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.
- Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession.
While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they have “color of title”: the right of legal ownership without having a written deed to the property. They can file an action for adverse possession in Maine to legally obtain the title to the property. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in Maine, you should:
- Call local law enforcement.
- Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter.
- If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer.
- If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office.
- Send the squatter a seven-day notice to quit as per Maine eviction law.
- If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the seven-day period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process.
- Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer.
Maine Eviction Cost Estimates
This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of the eviction process in Maine according to civil procedure in the state and iPropertyManagement. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress.
|Issuance of court summons||$5|
|Service of court summons||~$16-$40|
|Service of writ of restitution||~$16-$40|
|Execution of writ of restitution||$40|
|Average locksmith fees||$160|
|Storage fees for abandoned property||Varies|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies|
Maine Eviction Time Estimates
The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the eviction process. Keep in mind that the length of eviction cases varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.
|Eviction notice period||7 days|
|Service of complaint, summons, information form, and notice of electronic service to tenant||7-10 days before hearing|
|Issuance of writ of restitution||7 days after judgment is entered|
|Appeal period||Until writ is issued or 30 days after judgment is entered|
|Time to quit after writ is posted||48 hours|
|Total||3 weeks-2 months|
Note: The following court documents for Forcible Entry and Detainer in Maine can be downloaded here.
- Complaint for Residential Forcible Entry and Detainer (CV-007)
- Affidavit of Service, FED (CV-204)
- Notice of Appeal and Affidavit, FED (CV-206)
- Request for Issuance of Writ of Possession (CV-195)
- Maine District Court forms – This page is the Maine Judicial Branch’s official site with information about Forcible Entry Detainer (FED) cases.
- Evicting a Tenant from a Residence for not Paying Rent Brochure – This brochure explains the process of eviction for landlords in nonpayment cases.
The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal procedures and Maine laws on eviction, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state.
Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information.