Maine is more than lobsters and lighthouses! It boasts not only a thriving tourism industry (think: vacation rental investments) but also a growing influx of retirees. Look out, Florida and Arizona! With its beautiful backdrops of rocky coastline, mountains and lakes, Maine has much to offer despite its chilly winters. Maine creates a fairly level legal playing field for both landlord and tenants, unlike many of its New England neighbors. To keep your landlord sailing smooth, be sure you get familiar with Maine’s rental laws.
At a Glance:
Late Fees: Maximum of 4% of the rent and the tenant must be notified in writing ahead of time.
Security Deposit: No more than two months’ rent.
Returned Payment Fee Limit: There is no stated law specifying a maximum.
Notice to Enter: “Reasonable notification” during “reasonable hours,” except in cases of emergency.
Late Fees & Returned Check Fees:
Maine has strict guidelines to follow before a landlord can charge a late fee. First, a late charge cannot be charged earlier than after 15 days have passed since the rent was due. Second, the tenant must have advance knowledge of this in written form and third, it can be no more than 4% of the rental amount.
In Maine there are specific rent and fee collection procedures as outlined in Title 14, Section 6071, however, as far as “NSF” or bounced payment fees are concerned, there is nothing specified as the maximum fee. There is information on Maine.gov that speaks to average fees being $10 – $25.
In Maine, a landlord cannot charge more than an amount equal to two months rent for a security deposit. Although it is not required to pay interest, the landlord must not mix these funds with a regular operating or personal bank account. They must be kept in a separate account. However, if you have more than one investment property, it is permissible to have one account held solely for security deposits for all properties (tenants). There is no statute regarding providing for pets or non-refundable deposits.
Maine security deposits must be returned within thirty days of the tenant vacating, if specified in the lease agreement. If not specified in the lease, or if there is no written lease contract, the landlord must return the security deposit within twenty-one days. If any deductions are made, it must be for those items that are above and beyond normal everyday use. Any deductions made must be put in a written statement to be sent with any remaining monies or by itself, as applicable, within the time frames allowed, either the 30 or 21 days.
The Maine landlord has obligations to make the rental fit to live in. If there are any issues that the tenant makes the landlord aware of (and the tenant did not cause it), the landlord must swiftly make repairs.
When the heat is supplied by the landlord, there is a temperature requirement of 68 degrees, unless other terms are agreed upon in writing.
If there are any shared utilities in a common area, the landlord must provide some kind of consideration such as reduced rent and it must be agreed on in writing by the tenant.
Landlords must provide written disclosures with the lease agreement for any type of bedbug infestation or radon existence, lead disclosure and for residential energy efficiency.
Right of Entry:
Maine is all about being reasonable in the landlord’s right of entry and during reasonable times. There are no specifics such as how much advance notice is needed, except that it is reasonable. It is probably a safe bet to try and provide at least 24 hours’ notice which in most cases would be considered reasonable. If there is an emergency, the landlord usually retains the right to enter to secure the property.
Notice to End Lease:
For leases that have a fixed term (final ending date) the lease ends and the tenant would move unless the lease says otherwise. If there is no lease or if the lease is a periodic one, (month to month, week to week) the law states an advance thirty-day written notice is needed.
Maine handles eviction at the district level. Where there is a breach of the lease or agreement such as non-payment of rent, a 7-day notice (written) is given to the tenant. If the tenant does not make good or fails to respond, the landlord may go at the end of the 7-day period to the local district court (where the property is located) and file a complaint.
Questions? Ask a Maine Attorney!
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