Maine Landlord Tenant Laws
March 2, 2023
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Energy efficiency disclosure
Common area electricity
Security deposit location
Rent and Fees
Application Fees: Permitted
Rent Control: N/A
Late Fee Limit: 4% of the amount due
Grace Period Minimum: 15 days
Amount Limit: 2 months’ rent
Return Within: 30 days
Notice: 24 hours’
Permitted Times of Entry: Reasonable
|Fair Housing Protections
Rent Demand Notice: 7-day pay-or-quit notice
Notice for Lease Violation: 7-day cure-or-quit notice
Unconditional Notice to Quit: 7-day quit notice
Maine Landlord-Tenant Law
Landlords in all 50 states must include information about lead-based paint hazards in the rental agreements for most properties built before 1978. Sellers and landlords must distribute an EPA-approved information pamphlet called “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” and disclose any known lead hazards in the property. These obligations were established by Section 1018 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992.
Energy Efficiency Disclosure
Landlords in Maine should provide a residential energy efficiency disclosure statement to potential tenants who will pay for an energy supply for the unit. This disclosure includes, but is not limited to, information about the energy consumption and utility costs for the prior 12-month period. Alternatively, the landlord may include in the rental agreement the following statement: “You have the right to obtain a 12-month history of energy consumption and the cost of that consumption from the energy supplier.”
Tenants also have the right to request natural gas pipeline utility costs for the prior 12-month period, or the figures representing the highest and lowest natural gas energy consumption for that time period (MRSA § 6046).
When the landlord receives the results of a radon test, they must send a written notice of such to current and prospective tenants within 30 days of receiving them. The notice should concern the presence of radon in the building, whether any mitigation has been performed to reduce radon levels, and any risks associated with radon. The notice should also remind tenants that they have the right to conduct their own radon test.
According to Maine renting laws, landlords must provide current and prospective tenants with a smoking policy disclosure that notifies tenants of the landlord’s policy regarding smoking on the premises. The notice should be in writing, and it must state whether smoking is prohibited on the premises, allowed on the entire premises, or allowed in limited areas (specify these). Such a notice may be disclosed in a written rental agreement or a separate written notice. After providing the notice, landlords should obtain a written acknowledgement that the tenant received the notification.
Before renting out any property, landlords must disclose to prospective tenants if an adjacent unit(s) are currently infested with or being treated for bedbugs. Upon request, the landlord must also disclose the last date that the unit was inspected for a bedbug infestation and found to be free of bedbugs.
Common Area Electricity
If a tenant is responsible for covering the expenses for heat, electricity, or another utility to the common areas (areas not within the unit that is their sole responsibility), the landlord must disclose this in the written lease agreement and get the tenant’s agreement to cover these costs in exchange for a rent reduction or another specified fair consideration.
Security Deposit Location
Upon request by a tenant, landlords must disclose the name of the institution and the account number where the security deposit is being held. This requirement does not apply to a unit that is part of a structure containing five or fewer dwelling units, if the landlord occupies one of them.
Rent and Fees
- Rent Due Date: There is no statute in Maine specifying when rent should be due. However, it is typically due on the first of the month.
- Application Fees: Rental application fees are not regulated in Maine.
- Rent Increases: There is no statewide rent control in Maine. However, certain cities and localities in Maine (including Portland, Maine) have rent control ordinances. Additionally, rent may not be increased if the dwelling unit is in violation of the implied warranty of habitability (MRSA § 6016).
- Late Fees: 4% of the amount due. To charge a penalty for late rent, the landlord must give the tenant a written notice that they may be charged for late payments at the time they entered into the rental agreement (MRSA § 6028(2-3)).
- Grace Period: 15 days (MRSA § 6028(1)).
- NSF/Bounced Check Fee Maximum: If the tenant’s rent check bounces, the landlord may charge the tenant up to 12% per annum from the payment date, plus court and processing expenses (MRSA § 6071).
- Withholding Rent/Repair and Deduct: If the landlord fails to make a necessary repair of a condition that endangers health and safety, and the cost of compliance is less than $500 or ½ the monthly rent (whichever is greater), the tenant may send the landlord a written notice of the condition and state their intention to correct it at the landlord’s expense. If the landlord has not made the repair after 14 days, the tenant may arrange for the repair and deduct the fair and reasonable cost from the rent. The tenant must also send the landlord an itemized statement of the expense (MRSA § 6026).
- Deposit Limit: 2 months’ rent (MRSA § 6032(1)).
- Interest: Landlords in Maine are not required to pay interest on security deposits.
- Return Within: 30 days (MRSA § 6033(2)(A)).
- Deposit Location: Landlords are required to keep security deposits in a separate bank account or other financial institution, not commingled with other assets and beyond the claim of the landlord’s creditors or any other entity or person (MRSA § 6038(1)).
- Withholding: Landlords may withhold funds from the security deposit for unpaid rent or utility charges and the cost of storing or disposing of unclaimed property. The landlord may not withhold funds for ordinary wear and tear of the property and must provide the tenant with a written statement itemizing the reasons for the withholdings (MRSA § 6033(2)).
Tenant Screening and Fair Housing Protections
- Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability (Title 24 USC § 3601-3607). Maine state law adds sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry, and pregnancy (MRSA § 4581-A).
- Maine landlords are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 USC § 1681), which outlines the responsibilities of landlords to protect tenant credit information. According to the Act, landlords may not share tenant credit information with anyone without a legal reason to view it. They must also investigate disputed information, dispose of credit reports after use in tenant screening, and notify applicants when their credit score or history was the reason for their denial.
- Criminal background checks may be used during tenant screening in Maine.
- Maine landlords should follow HUD recommendations for using criminal background checks fairly. This includes avoiding blanket policies for denying applicants with criminal convictions, assessing applicants and their criminal histories on a case-by-case basis, and only denying an applicant when they demonstrate a risk to the safety of other residents or the property.
- Advanced Notice: 24 hours’ (MRSA § 6025(2)).
- Permitted Times: Landlords in Maine may only enter at reasonable times. Acceptable reasons for entering include inspections, repairs, decorations, alterations, improvements, services, or showings (MRSA § 6025(1-2)).
- Emergency Entry: In case of emergency, the landlord may enter without advanced notice (MRSA § 6025(2)).
Evictions are complex legal processes often poorly understood by both parties. Before pursuing eviction in Maine, consider hiring an experienced real estate attorney and be sure to review the Maine eviction process in more detail.
- Rent Demand Notice: 7 days to pay or quit (MRSA § 6002(1)).
- Notice for Lease Violation: 7 days to cure or quit. According to Maine eviction laws, this notice applies when the tenant is violating lease agreement terms. For example, the tenant may have caused substantial damage to the premises, created a nuisance, allowed an unauthorized occupant to live in the unit, or failed to fulfill their obligations as per the law (MRSA § 6002(1)).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 7 days to quit. This notice applies when the tenant engages in illegal activity on the premises, including perpetrating domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, violence, or threat of violence to another tenant or person on the premises. The landlord is not required to provide the tenant an opportunity to cure the violation (MRSA § 6002(1)).
Other Laws and Facts About Maine
- The median rent rate in Maine is $1,875.
- The median rent rate in Augusta is $1,500.
- The landlord may take action against a tenant who owns a dangerous pet on the premises. If the landlord, an employee, or a tenant has experienced harm or been threatened by the presence of a tenant or a dangerous pet, the landlord may file a petition in their own name or on behalf of an aggrieved tenant (MRSA § 6030-A(1)).