Maine Tenant-Landlord Rental Laws & Rights for 2024

Overview of Tenant-Landlord Laws in Maine

Understanding tenant-landlord laws in Maine is crucial for maintaining a fair and balanced rental relationship. These laws protect the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords, ensuring rental agreements are upheld and disputes minimized.

This overview covers essential topics such as security deposits, maintenance and repairs, landlord entry and privacy, terminating a lease early, the eviction process, rent increases, uninhabitable conditions, discrimination protections, security deposit deductions, and tenant resources available in Maine.

By familiarizing yourself with these regulations, you can navigate the rental process more effectively and address any potential issues with confidence.

Security Deposits in Maine

Maine’s security deposit laws outline the amount landlords can charge for security deposits, how the deposits must be handled, allowable deductions, and requirements for returning deposits to tenants.

Landlords in Maine can charge a maximum security deposit equal to two months' rent for tenants who are not elderly or do not have a disability. For elderly tenants or those with disabilities, the maximum allowable security deposit is one month's rent.

Any security deposit funds collected by landlords must be held in a separate bank account in Maine and earn interest at the bank's prevailing rate. Landlords are required to provide tenants with annual statements detailing any interest accrued on their security deposit.

When a tenant moves out, landlords can deduct from the security deposit for any unpaid rent or utility charges, as well as costs to repair any damages to the rental unit beyond normal wear and tear. Landlords must provide tenants with an itemized list of all deductions from the security deposit within 30 days after the tenancy ends.

If no deductions are necessary, landlords must return the full security deposit amount, plus any accrued interest, within 30 days after the tenant moves out and returns the keys. Failure to return the deposit within this timeframe can allow the tenant to seek double the amount wrongfully withheld, plus reasonable attorney fees.

Maintenance and Repairs

In Maine, landlords have a legal responsibility to maintain rental properties in a habitable condition. This duty falls under the implied warranty of habitability, which requires landlords to ensure premises are fit for human occupation and compliant with applicable housing codes. 

Specifically, landlords must keep all structural components like roofs, floors, walls, chimneys, and foundations in good repair. Electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems must be maintained in safe, operational condition. Landlords must also provide adequate trash receptacles, arrange for trash removal, and ensure common areas like hallways, stairways, and basements are clean and free of hazards.

If a tenant notifies the landlord in writing of a needed repair or deficient condition that violates the implied warranty of habitability, the landlord has a reasonable period of time to address it. What constitutes a "reasonable" timeframe depends on the severity of the issue and potential for harm. For major problems like lack of heat or water, landlords may have as little as 24 hours to begin remedying the situation.

If a landlord fails to make necessary repairs after proper notice, tenants have several potential remedies:

  • Hire outside help to fix the issue and deduct the cost from rent 
  • Withhold a portion of rent related to the reduced rental value until repairs are made
  • Terminate the lease agreement early due to the breach
  • Seek a court order requiring the landlord to fix the problem
  • Pursue damages from the landlord for any harm or losses caused

Maine law clearly puts the burden on landlords to proactively maintain properties in a fit and habitable condition. Tenants have strong rights to demand timely repairs and corrections of deficient conditions.

Squatters' Rights in Maine

In Maine, squatters can gain legal rights to a property through a process called adverse possession. To claim adverse possession, squatters must occupy the property openly, continuously, and without permission for a period of 20 years.

During this time, the squatter must treat the property as their own, paying property taxes and maintaining it. If successful, the squatter can file a claim in court to gain legal ownership of the property.

Understanding squatters’ rights laws in Maine can help property owners protect their rights and take timely action against unauthorized occupants.

Landlord Entry and Privacy

In Maine, tenants have reasonable rights to privacy in their rental units. Landlords cannot enter occupied rental properties without proper notice and valid reasons. Maine law requires landlords to provide at least 24 hours of advance notice before entering to make repairs, inspect the premises, or show the unit to prospective tenants or purchasers. 

The notice must be in writing and state the intended reason for entry. Tenants have the right to deny entry from the landlord if proper notice was not given, except in emergency situations. Landlords can enter without notice if there is an imminent threat to property or person due to fire, flood, or other catastrophic event.

Landlords who abuse their right of access and enter rental units without proper notification or justification may be liable for damages and potential harassment claims from tenants. Tenants should document all instances of improper entry and any associated losses or damages.

Maine strives to balance the landlord's right to reasonably access their property with the tenant's right to quiet enjoyment and privacy in their home. As long as proper procedures are followed, both parties can maintain their legal rights and responsibilities.

Terminating a Lease Early

Tenants in Maine may have the ability to legally terminate their lease agreement early in certain qualifying situations. Allowable reasons for early termination by a tenant include:


If the rental unit becomes unsafe or uninhabitable due to damage, hazards, or other emergency circumstances beyond the tenant's control, they can terminate with proper notice to the landlord.

Military Service: 

Active duty military members have rights to terminate their lease without penalty if they receive deployment or permanent change of station orders.

Domestic Violence: 

Tenants who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking can get out of their lease early by providing required documentation.

Landlord Violations: 

If the landlord violates their obligations or the implied warranty of habitability under Maine law, the tenant may have grounds to terminate.

In cases of early termination allowed by state law, the landlord cannot charge penalties or fees beyond actual incurred costs like a rerental fee. However, the tenant remains on the hook for rent until the unit is rerented to a new tenant.

Proper advance written notice is required, such as 30 or 60 days. The specific notice period depends on the reason for terminating. Tenants should review their lease and consult Maine's laws.

In any situation, the tenant should notify the landlord immediately of their intent to terminate early, provide documentation validating the reason, and ensure rent is paid for the required notice period.

The Eviction Process

According to Maine eviction laws, landlords must have legal grounds to evict a tenant. Allowable reasons include nonpayment of rent, violation of lease terms, creating a nuisance on the property, or the tenant remaining after their lease expires. The landlord cannot evict in retaliation for the tenant exercising their legal rights.

To begin the eviction process, landlords must provide tenants with proper written notice, specifying the reason and date they must vacate. The notice period varies from 7 days for nonpayment of rent to 30 days for lease termination or violations. If the tenant remains after this period, the landlord can file an eviction complaint in court.  

The court will schedule a hearing where both parties can present evidence and make their case. Tenants can defend themselves by showing they did not violate the lease, the landlord did not follow proper procedures, or other legal defenses. Tenants may be able to stay the eviction by paying owed rent and fees into an escrow account.

If the court rules in favor of the landlord, they will issue a final judgment and writ of possession. The tenant then has a set period, typically 7-10 days, to move out before law enforcement can legally remove them. An eviction goes on the tenant's record and can make it difficult to rent in the future.

Throughout the process, tenants have rights that landlords must respect, including proper notice, appearing in court, and not being illegally locked out or having utilities shut off. Tenants may be able to recover damages if their rights are violated.

Rent Increases

In Maine, there are no statewide rent control laws that limit how much landlords can increase rent. However, landlords must provide proper notice before raising the rent, with the notice period varying based on the type of tenancy. 

For tenants with a lease for a specific term (e.g. 6-month or 1-year lease), the landlord cannot raise the rent until the lease term expires. Once the fixed lease period ends, the landlord must give at least 45 days' written notice before increasing the rent if the tenant remains on a month-to-month tenancy.

For tenants without a lease who are renting month-to-month, landlords must provide at least 45 days' advance written notice before a rent increase can go into effect. The notice must specify the amount of the rent increase and the date it will be effective.

There are no restrictions on how frequently landlords can increase rent in Maine, as long as proper notice is given each time per the requirements above. Landlords cannot raise the rent in retaliation against a tenant for exercising their legal rights.

It's important for tenants to carefully review their lease, as some leases may contain provisions about rent increases that provide more protection than state law requires. Tenants should also keep documentation of all rent increase notices received from the landlord.

Uninhabitable Conditions

If a rental unit in Maine becomes uninhabitable or unlivable due to damage, lack of essential services, or safety issues, tenants have legal rights and remedies available to them. Landlords have a duty to maintain fit and habitable premises under Maine's warranty of habitability.

If serious defects or hazards arise that violate this warranty and render the unit unlivable, tenants can exercise certain options. These include withholding some or all of the rent until repairs are completed, paying for necessary repairs themselves and deducting that cost from the next rental payment, or terminating the lease if the landlord fails to fix the situation in a timely manner. 

In cases where the rental is deemed legally uninhabitable, the landlord must respond quickly to remedy the issue or provide the tenant with alternative housing until repairs are finished. Depending on the severity, landlords may be required to temporarily relocate tenants and cover costs like moving expenses and hotel stays.

Maine statute defines what constitutes uninhabitable premises, such as lack of running water, electricity, adequate heat, or the presence of hazardous conditions that pose an imminent threat to health and safety. Landlord failure to address uninhabitable conditions can lead to liability for damages or civil penalties. Tenants facing such issues should follow proper procedures, provide written notice, and may want to contact local authorities.

Discrimination Protections

In Maine, it is illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants or potential renters based on certain protected characteristics. The Maine Human Rights Act prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, national origin, familial status, and source of income.

Landlords cannot refuse to rent, impose different rental terms, or provide differing services or facilities to someone due to their membership in one of these protected classes. Examples of unlawful discriminatory practices include rejecting applicants because they have children, refusing to allow service animals for tenants with disabilities, or quoting higher rental prices based on race.

The Maine Human Rights Commission is the state agency responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination laws in housing. Tenants who believe they have experienced illegal discrimination can file a complaint with the Commission within 300 days of the alleged violation. Complaints are investigated, and if discrimination is found, the Commission can order remedies such as monetary damages, policy changes, or other injunctive relief.

In addition to state protections, the Federal Fair Housing Act also prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status. Victims of illegal housing discrimination can file complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or pursue a civil lawsuit in court.

Tenants in Maine should be aware of their rights to rent housing free from discrimination. Any differential treatment, harassment, or denial of housing opportunities due to a protected characteristic may constitute unlawful discrimination. Maintaining awareness and promptly reporting violations to the proper authorities can help protect housing rights.

Security Deposit Deductions

When a tenant moves out of a rental unit in Maine, landlords are permitted to deduct certain amounts from the security deposit to cover damages beyond normal wear and tear. However, there are strict rules around the documentation and process landlords must follow.

Maine law requires landlords to provide the tenant with an itemized list of all deductions from the security deposit within 30 days after the tenancy terminates and the tenant has vacated the premises. This list must include a description of each deduction claimed and be accompanied by a full refund of any remaining security deposit balance.

Allowable deductions from a security deposit include:

  • Cost of repairing damage to the unit beyond reasonable wear and tear
  • Unpaid rent or utility bills the tenant was responsible for
  • Cost of cleaning above normal vacancy cleaning 
  • Cost to replace missing or broken fixtures, appliances, keys, etc.

Landlords cannot make deductions for normal wear and tear expected from the tenant living in the unit. Carpets naturally wear down, paint discolors, minor scuffs and marks accumulate - landlords must factor in depreciation from normal use.

If landlords fail to provide an itemized list of deductions and remaining refund within 30 days, they forfeit the right to withhold any portion of the security deposit. Tenants can file a lawsuit to recover double the amount wrongfully withheld in addition to court costs.

Tenant Resources in Maine

Maine has several state agencies and organizations dedicated to protecting tenant rights and resolving landlord-tenant disputes. The Maine State Housing Authority provides information on rental laws, fair housing, and landlord relations. They can assist with understanding your rights, filing complaints, and accessing legal aid resources.

Pine Tree Legal Assistance is a non-profit law firm offering free civil legal services to low-income Mainers. They have attorneys specializing in landlord-tenant matters who can advise on your specific rental situation and represent tenants in court.

The Maine Association of Mediators provides low-cost mediation services to help resolve conflicts between landlords and tenants before issues escalate to evictions or lawsuits. Mediation allows both parties to negotiate a mutually agreeable solution.

Several tenants' unions and advocacy groups in Maine work to educate renters on their rights and provide support navigating the rental process. These include Portland Tenants United, Lewiston Tenant Voices, and the Statewide Homeless Council. They organize educational events, share resources, and push for stronger tenant protections.

The Maine Office of the Attorney General has a Consumer Protection division that investigates violations of Maine's landlord-tenant laws. You can file complaints about issues like illegal lease provisions, discrimination, or failure to maintain habitable conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are my rights as a tenant in Maine?

Tenants in Maine have the right to a habitable living environment, protection from discrimination, and privacy. They can also request timely repairs and expect proper notice before eviction or rent increases.

Who do I report my landlord to in Maine?

Tenants can report landlord issues to the Maine Human Rights Commission or local housing authorities for violations of housing codes or discrimination laws.

How much time does a landlord have to give a tenant to move out in Maine?

Landlords must provide a written notice of at least 7 days for nonpayment of rent and 30 days for other lease violations or termination.

What is considered landlord harassment in Maine?

Landlord harassment includes any actions that create a hostile environment, such as illegal entry, threats, or withholding essential services to force a tenant to move out.

How hard is it to evict a tenant in Maine?

Evicting a tenant in Maine requires legal grounds and following proper procedures, including providing written notice and obtaining a court order. The process can be challenging if the tenant contests the eviction.

How long does a landlord have to fix something in Maine?

Landlords must address repair requests within a reasonable time frame, typically 14 days, or sooner if the issue affects the tenant's health or safety.

Featured Tools
Finding and Selecting the Best Tenant
For a $2,000 monthly rental: 1. You lose $1,000 if you have your rental on the market for 15 additional days. 2. You lose $1,000+ for evictions. Learn how to quickly find and select a qualified tenant while following the law.
More Tools