Maine Security Deposit Laws in 2024

Introduction to Maine Security Deposit Laws

A security deposit is an amount of money paid by a renter to a landlord at the start of a lease to provide financial protection in case the tenant causes damage or does not pay rent. Landlords can use the deposit funds to cover the cost of repairing damage beyond normal wear and tear, unpaid rent, or cleaning costs when the tenant moves out. 

Security deposits are regulated by state laws to protect renters from landlords unfairly withholding deposits. Maine has specific statutes governing security deposits that determine how much landlords can charge, when deposits must be returned, allowable deductions, and penalties if landlords fail to follow the laws. This guide covers everything Maine renters need to know about security deposits.

Maximum Security Deposit Amount

In Maine, landlords are allowed to collect a security deposit up to two months' rent when renting an unfurnished apartment. For example, if the monthly rent is $1,000, the maximum security deposit would be $2,000. 

There is no limit on security deposits for furnished rentals in Maine. Landlords renting out furnished apartments can charge any amount for the security deposit.

The two month limit applies specifically to the security deposit and does not include other fees like pet deposits or utility deposits. Landlords can charge additional deposits for pets, utilities, or other services. 

While two months' rent is the maximum allowed by law for unfurnished units, landlords are not required to charge that full amount. Some may choose to charge one month's rent or an amount less than the two month cap. However, they cannot exceed the legal limit.

It's important for renters to be aware of this two month cap on security deposits when apartment hunting in Maine. Reviewing the lease carefully and ensuring the security deposit does not exceed this limit can prevent any potential issues down the road.

Returning the Security Deposit

In Maine, landlords have 30 days after the tenant moves out to return the security deposit along with an itemized list of any damages, repairs, or unpaid rent that were deducted from the deposit. 

The unused portion of the deposit must be returned to the tenant within this 30 day timeframe. Failure to do so could result in penalties against the landlord.

The security deposit and itemized deductions should be sent to the forwarding address provided by the tenant. If no forwarding address was provided, it can be mailed to the last known address of the tenant.

It is recommended that tenants provide their landlord with a forwarding address in writing as they prepare to vacate the rental unit. This helps ensure the landlord can properly return the security deposit in a timely manner.

If a landlord needs more time for repairs or cleaning, they should notify the tenant in writing and provide a reasonable estimated timeframe for returning the deposit. But the 30 day limit still applies for any undisputed portion of the deposit that does not need to be withheld.

Allowable Deductions

Landlords in Maine are legally allowed to deduct unpaid rent and damages from a tenant's security deposit. 

According to Maine law, landlords can deduct:

Unpaid rent

If a tenant moves out with unpaid rent, the landlord can deduct this amount from the security deposit. This includes rent owed for the final month or any previous months the rent was not paid in full.

Damages beyond normal wear and tear

Landlords can deduct the cost to repair any damages that exceed normal wear and tear. This could include stains, holes in walls, broken appliances, and any other damage not considered ordinary use. The landlord typically needs to provide documentation like receipts or repair estimates to justify these deductions. Normal wear and tear cannot be deducted.

Cleaning fees

If the tenant leaves the unit in an unclean condition, the landlord can hire professional cleaners and deduct the fees from the deposit. This is allowed if the unit is left substantially dirtier than when the tenant moved in.

Rekeying fees

If the tenant fails to return all keys, the landlord can charge to rekey the locks and deduct this from the deposit. 

The landlord must provide the tenant an itemized list of all deductions taken from the security deposit within 30 days after the tenant moves out. The deductions must be for the reasons allowed by Maine law. If the landlord takes improper deductions, the tenant has recourse to recover the full deposit amount.

Security Deposit Receipt

Maine law requires landlords to provide tenants with a receipt for their security deposit within 30 days of receiving it. This receipt must include the following information:

  • Amount of security deposit paid by the tenant
  • Name and location of the bank where the security deposit is being held
  • Statement of the terms and conditions under which the landlord may retain the security deposit at the end of the tenancy

The security deposit receipt provides documentation for tenants to ensure their deposit is being properly handled. Having a receipt also makes it easier to dispute any improper deductions later on. 

If a landlord fails to provide the legally required security deposit receipt within 30 days, the tenant can take action against the landlord. The tenant should send a written request for the receipt first. If the landlord still does not comply, the tenant may be able to recover up to two times the security deposit amount in damages in court.

Separate Security Deposit Account

Landlords in Maine are required to keep security deposits in a separate bank account that is not mixed or commingled with the landlord's personal funds. The security deposits must be held in an account for the tenant's benefit, although any interest earned on the account accrues to the landlord.

The purpose of requiring a separate account is to protect the tenant's deposit and ensure it is not spent by the landlord. It also makes it easier to identify and return the proper amount to the tenant at the end of the tenancy. While the landlord maintains control of the account, they cannot legally use the security deposit funds for their own expenses or operating costs.

If a landlord fails to properly maintain security deposits in a separate bank account, tenants may have legal recourse. Under Maine law, commingling deposits with personal funds can be considered conversion or misappropriation of rental funds, which can lead to penalties against the landlord.

Transferring Security Deposits

If the rental property is sold or transferred to a new owner, the security deposits must transfer along with it. The new owner becomes responsible for holding the tenants' security deposits after acquiring the property. 

The original landlord who collected the deposits remains liable in the event that the new owner fails to properly return the tenants' security deposits. A tenant can still pursue legal action against the original landlord if the new owner unlawfully withholds or does not return the security deposit upon moving out.

The liability for security deposits stays with the original landlord until the deposits have been rightfully returned to the tenants. Simply transferring deposits to a new owner does not release the original landlord from legal obligation.

Tenant’s Notice to Vacate  

To end a lease in Maine, tenants are required to provide written notice to their landlord at least 30 days prior to moving out. This written notice informs the landlord that the tenant does not intend to renew their lease at the end of the current term. 

The notice should be delivered in writing, either through certified mail or by having the landlord sign and acknowledge a written notice provided by the tenant. Email notice is generally acceptable if allowed by the lease terms. The notice period officially starts the day after the landlord receives the notice. 

For example, if a tenant plans to move out on June 30, they would need to provide written notice no later than May 31 to give the full 30 days notice required by Maine law.

If the tenant and landlord mutually agree, they can shorten the 30 day notice period. However, the landlord is not obligated to accept less than 30 days.

If a tenant moves out without providing proper written notice, they may be responsible for paying an additional month's rent to the landlord. Proper notice helps the landlord find a new tenant and minimizes vacancy periods.

Tenant Recourse

If a landlord in Maine wrongfully withholds all or part of a security deposit, the tenant has several options for recourse:

Sue in Small Claims Court

The tenant can file a lawsuit against the landlord in small claims court. Under Maine law, the tenant can sue for double the amount of the security deposit that was wrongfully withheld, up to $6,000. 

To begin the process, the tenant will need to file a claim at the small claims court in the county where the rental property is located. The tenant will have to provide documentation showing that they are entitled to the security deposit and that the landlord failed to properly return it. 

At the small claims hearing, both parties will have a chance to present their case before a judge. If the judge rules in favor of the tenant, the landlord could be ordered to pay double the amount of the security deposit, court costs, and possibly additional penalties.

Suing in small claims court provides tenants with an accessible way to recover wrongfully withheld deposits without having to hire a lawyer. The total amount that can be recovered is limited to $6,000, but this option can be quicker and less expensive than filing a formal lawsuit.


Maine law provides some exemptions to the general security deposit requirements for certain types of rental properties. Specifically, owner-occupied buildings with 5 or fewer units are exempt from the security deposit regulations. This means landlords who live in the building they rent out with 5 or fewer units do not have to follow the laws about maximum deposit amounts, returning deposits within 30 days, providing receipts and itemized deductions, and maintaining the deposit in a separate bank account. They must still return any unused portion of the security deposit to the tenant at the end of the lease, but the detailed rules and procedures do not apply.

The exemption for owner-occupied small buildings provides more flexibility for landlords of a small number of units. However, tenants in these types of properties still have recourse if the landlord wrongfully withholds their security deposit. They can take the landlord to small claims court to recover up to twice the amount of the security deposit, even though the unit is exempt.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the deposit law in Maine?

In Maine, landlords can request a security deposit from tenants, but the amount cannot exceed two months' rent. Upon the end of the tenancy, the landlord is required to return the security deposit within 30 days after the lease ends, or 21 days for at-will tenants, unless otherwise specified in a written agreement.

What can a landlord deduct from a security deposit in Maine?

In Maine, landlords can make deductions from the security deposit for unpaid rent, damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear, and other lease violations. Landlords must provide an itemized list of deductions along with the cost of repairs, and return any remaining balance of the security deposit.

Is it illegal to charge first, last, and security in Maine?

It is not illegal in Maine to charge first and last month's rent along with a security deposit at the beginning of a tenancy, as long as the total of the security deposit does not exceed two months' rent.

What is the statute 6033 in Maine?

Maine Revised Statutes Title 14, Section 6033 refers to the handling of security deposits. This statute outlines the obligations of landlords regarding the collection, holding, and return of security deposits, including the requirements for returning the deposit and providing an itemized statement of deductions.

What is the maximum security deposit a landlord can take on a residential property in Maine?

The maximum security deposit a landlord can take on a residential property in Maine is limited to two months' rent. This applies regardless of the length or terms of the lease agreement.

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