The Fair Housing Act was created in order to ensure that everyone is treated equally during the housing process. It protects tenants from discrimination when seraching for a rental property. At the federal level the Fair Housing Act protects the following classes…
- National Origin
- Familial Status
Learn about fair housing at the federal level here https://resources.hemlane.com/landlord-must-know-fair-housing/
Maine protects the same categories as federal law.
(ME Rev. Stat. Title 5, Part 12, Ch. 337 §4582)
Maximum Landlord Can Charge: Maximum of 2 month’s rent (§6032).
Bank Account Requirements: It is illegal to commingle security deposits with other funds. Can keep deposits from all tenants in one account and tenants may request name of institution holding deposit. Surety bonds are permitted as an alternative to security deposit (§6038 and §6039).
Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: Should be stated in the lease agreement; however, it cannot be longer than 30 days. With a tenancy at will, 21 days after termination of tenancy (§6033(2)(A) and (B)).
Security Deposit Deduction Notice Upon Move Out: Landlord must provide an itemized list of damages and costs with the return of the deposit. Itemization must accompany a payment equal to the difference between the deposit and amount retained (§6033).
Permitted Use of Security Deposit: May not be used to cover damages from normal wear and tear. May be used to cover costs of dealing with unclaimed property or unpaid rent and utility charges (§6033).
Failure to Comply: If deposit is not returned within specified time (21 or 30 days), landlord cannot withhold any of the deposit. If held withheld intentionally or wrongfully, landlord is liable for 2x amount of the deposit withheld (§6033(3) and §6034).
Rent and Late Fees
Rent Fee: To be paid according to lease agreement.
Rent Increase: Noticed required at least 45 days beforehand (§6015).
Grace Period: Payment is late 15 days after the day payment is due (§6028(1)).
Late Fees: Allowed if stated in the rental agreement. Fee cannot exceed 4% of monthly rent (§6028(2) and (3)).
Withholding Rent: Tenant allowed to deduct amount paid for utility service in landlord’s name that landlord fails to pay (§6010(A)).
Repair and Deduct Rent: If the cost of compliance is less than $500 or half of one month’s rent, whichever is greater, tenant can provide notice of a breach of the landlord’s duties to the landlord. If repairs are not made within 14 days, tenant may make reasonable repairs and deduct the cost from rent (§6025(3)).
Notices and Entry
Landlord Access to Property: Landlord may enter property during reasonable times and with notice, presumably of 24 hours. No notice needed in an emergency (§6025(2)).
Notice of Entry With Extended Tenant Absence: No statute.
Notice to Terminate Lease with Fixed End Date: Cannot terminate lease with fixed end date in rental agreement, unless tenant or landlord significantly breaches the rental agreement (§6001(1)(A) and (B)).
Notice to Terminate Lease with No Specified End Date: Required notice of at least 30 days. Landlord must inform tenant of right to challenge cessation of lease. With minimum notice of 7 days, can terminate lease for nonpayment, damages, nuisance or breach of law (§6001(1)(B) and §6002).
Notice to Terminate Month-to-Month Lease: Required notice of at least 30 days (§6002).
Notice to Terminate Week-to-Week Lease: Required notice of at least 30 days (§6002).
Duties of Landlord:
- Habitability: Must maintain habitable conditions. If landlord fails to make changes after tenant has submitted a notice, tenant may file a complaint in court (§6021).
- Common Areas: It is illegal to require that tenants supply heat in common areas outside of their rented unit, unless fair compensation is agreed to in writing, for example a deduction in rent (§6024).
- Heat: If required by lease to supply heat, landlord must maintain heating provisions that support at least 68 degrees in dwelling unit (§6021).
- Bed Bugs: Must inform tenants of any current bedbug infestations being treated in neighboring units prior to renting a unit in the vicinity. Must provide tenant with date of last inspection if requested. While unit is being rented, landlord must oversee the inspection and treatment of bed bugs within 5 days of tenant’s notice (§6021(A)).
Lead Disclosure: Landlord must notify tenant of activity and risk of environmental lead hazard. Must give 30 days notice before activity begins (§6030(B)).
Retaliation: Presumed if, within 6 months prior to landlord’s action, the tenant defended rights specified in §6021 or §6030(D) complained about landlord’s violation of required codes or filed a notice of violation, submitted a written request for repairs, filed a fair housing complaint, or provided notice that tenant or a minor is a victim (§6001(3)).
Notice of Termination - Nonpayment: Required notice of at least 7 days, if rent has not been paid within a week of the day rent is due (§6002).
Notice of Termination - Lease Violation: Required notice of at least 7 days if the tenant 1) changes locks and denies landlord a key, 2) causes considerable damages to property that do not get fixed, 3) causes or allows a nuisance on property, 4) violates the law, 5) fails to maintain habitable conditions (§6025) and §6002).
For more information on Maine Landlord Tenant laws please visit their website here.