Bring harmony and understanding to your rental agreement when you read LandlordStation.com’s summary of Maine landlord tenant laws. In this overview, we cover certain facets of both sides of the landlord-tenant relationship. This is to educate you on items that you should provide and expect in a lease agreement in Maine. Be aware that this is a summary provided for general educational purposes only. The following is not to be considered legal advice. For legal advice on Maine landlord tenant law and how it specifically applies to your situation, you should speak with a lawyer licensed to practice in Maine.
Before attempting to understand certain aspects of ME landlord tenant laws, you must first figure out which laws apply to your rental agreement. In long-term, residential leases, tenants have quite a few rights and obligations. In short-term residences, however, the people staying on the premises are considered to be more along the lines of licensees or guests rather than tenants. Hotels, motels, boarding houses, and campgrounds are good examples of short-term residences that limit a would-be tenant’s rights.
Once you have determined that the Maine landlord tenant laws concerning long-term, residential leases apply to you – preferably through consulting a licensed attorney – there is much to consider. Most of the laws governing the rental relationship in this state are contained in Title 14 of the Maine Revised Statutes under Part 7, Chapter 709, Subchapter 1. You should always keep in mind your responsibilities as landlord and your lessee’s rights as tenant under these laws.
First and foremost, consider the warranty of habitability. Under Maine landlord tenant law, by entering a rental agreement as a landlord you have promised to provide a dwelling unit fit for human habitation. This means that the rental unit is a reasonably safe, decent place to live. If a condition which violates this warranty exists, such as a lack of adequate ventilation, broken windows or locks, extended absence of running water, etc., your tenant can take you to court to make you correct the issue. For your tenant to win a suit regarding the Maine warranty of habitability, he or she must meet the following requirements:
• Dwelling condition must be serious enough to actually threaten safety or health
• Tenant, or his or her family, may not have caused the condition
• Tenant must have given you reasonably prompt written notice of the issue and provided you with a reasonable amount of time to correct it
• Tenant must have been up to date on rent when he or she delivered you written notice of the issue
• There must not be any condition in the lease that allowed the tenant to sign away his or her right to complain about certain issues
If the tenant wins in court, the judge may rule that the rent be lowered, and the tenant be issued a partial rent rebate, as well as compensation for legal fees. Note that in recent years, part of the warranty of habitability has included how to handle bedbugs. Both landlord and tenant have specific rights and responsibilities under ME landlord tenant law concerning bedbugs and habitability. Refer to the law itself, or a licensed Maine lawyer, when searching for specifics about bedbugs.
ME landlord tenant laws also offer tenants protection from unfair evictions, unreasonable discrimination, and unreasonable refusals to return the security deposit. In return, tenants must act within the law themselves and not abuse the rights of landlords. A tenant, for instance, may not negligently or intentionally cause damage to the rental property or allow such damage to occur by his or her family or guests. A tenant must also give a landlord reasonable access to the property when he or she is given appropriate notice – which in Maine is considered 24 hours.
Other important landlord rights to know in this state are your rights to dispose of abandoned property and your rights to eviction with appropriate notice. If the tenant leaves any property on the rental premises and does not claim it within 14 days after you provide notice of such property to the tenant’s last known address, this property is considered abandoned. Once the tenant’s property is legally considered abandoned by this definition, you can dispose of the property in any manner you choose. This includes your right to sell the property at a fair price.
One of the most important rights you have under Maine landlord tenant laws is your right to eviction. It is very important, however, to remember that eviction is a specific legal process and not just your right to force a tenant out of the rental premises on your own. For instance, without a court order, you are not allowed to change the locks, intimidate the tenant, remove the tenant’s belongings, or shut off the utilities. You may, though, give appropriate notice and begin legal proceedings for eviction when you, as the owner, wish to occupy the unit, or when a tenant does any of the following:
• Fails to pay rent
• Violates a material provision in the lease
• Conducts unlawful or criminal activity on the rental premises
• Causes significant damage to the rental unit
• Fails to vacate the rental unit upon the end of the lease agreement
As you can see, understanding, at the very least, the more significant parts of Maine landlord-tenant law can help you guide your own actions, and those of your tenant, toward a more harmonious rental relationship. It can also help you identify any red flags and help you protect yourself legally. Landlord Station hopes you have garnered a decent comprehension of the responsibility you take on as landlord, and that you will continue to pursue education on this subject. Remember, this is not to be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding your specific situation under ME landlord tenant laws, consult the expertise of an experienced and licensed Maine attorney.
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