State law contains specific rights and obligations for tenants and landlords. The following resources provide general information on Maine landlord/tenant laws. For specific advice, you should contact an attorney. (Thanks to MaineHousing for providing this information.) The City of Bath website with city ordinances: http://www.cityofbath.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=content.filelist&typeID=40133
Consumer Law Guide
The Maine Attorney General’s Office publishes the Consumer Law Guide, a technical summary of the law with references to the specific statutes. The Guide includes chapters on consumer rights when renting an apartment (Chapter 14), consumer rights when living in a mobile home (Chapter 15), and a model lease (Chapter 16- click here). For more information, see www.maine.gov/ag and click on the Consumer Law Guide, or call 1-800-436-2131.
Bed bugs are becoming much more common in Maine. For more information regarding landlord and tenant responsibilities related to bed bugs, see Pine Tree Legal Assistance’s The Rights of Tenants in Maine. Click here for relevant statutory language.
A tenant who will be paying energy costs has the right to get information on the last 12 months of energy use from the energy supplier(s). Before a tenant enters into a contract or pays a deposit to rent or lease a property, the landlord shall provide the energy efficiency disclosure statement, obtain a signature, and keep a copy on file for three years.
Efficiency Maine’s Residential Programs click here
Maine Governor’s Energy Office click here
Maine Energy Resources click here
Department of Agriculture Rural Development click here
Maine State Housing Authority Home Improvement Program click here
Maine Community Foundation Grants to Green click here
Landlords, property management companies, real estate agencies, and home sellers are required by state and federal law to inform potential occupants of the known presence of lead-based paint in pre-1978 housing. Before signing a lease the landlord must disclose known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards and provide available written reports if applicable. The landlord must provide the pamphlet developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC), titled “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home.” The landlord must also provide a written disclosure statement developed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) titled “MAINE WARNING: LEAD BASED PAINT HAZARDS”. Notification and disclosure language when lead paint hazards exist must be included in rental agreements.
Landlords are required to have the air in each building with rental units tested for the presence of radon by March 1, 2014. The testing must be done by a State registered radon tester and must be repeated every 10 years. The landlord must provide written notice about radon and the results of the radon testing to each potential tenant before the tenant signs a lease or pays the deposit to rent and also to existing tenants. The tenant must sign the notice. If radon test results are 4 pCI/l or higher, the landlord must mitigate those levels within six months, or if a local permit is required, six months from the date of the permit, and provide written notice of the results to the tenants.
Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Landlords are required to provide working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors at the time a property or unit is rented. Tenants are required to keep the batteries in the detectors charged and to test the detectors. Tenants are prohibited from disabling the smoke detectors. Landlords are required to repair or replace a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector if a tenant provides written notice to the landlord that the detector is not working properly.
In December, 2015 the Maine State Fire Marshal, Bath Fire Department, Bath Housing, and American Red Cross hosted a Fire Safety Forum for landlords and property managers. A video of the presentation may be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IGoVW7vRDs&feature=youtu.be. Click here for the presentation and here for a list of best smoke alarms.
Landlords are required to provide written notice to tenants and potential tenants about whether or not smoking is allowed. The notice must state whether smoking is prohibited on the premises, allowed on the premises, or allowed in limited areas. If the landlord allows smoking in limited areas, the notice must identify where smoking is allowed. A landlord may notify a tenant of the smoking policy in a written lease agreement, or provide a separate written notice. The landlord must provide this written notice before a tenant enters into a contract or pays a deposit to rent or lease the property.
Fair Housing Law
It is illegal for a Maine landlord to refuse to rent to someone because of their color, race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, having children, or getting public aid.
Legislation contained in the Civil Rights Act of 1998, Title VIII, as amended, is commonly referred to as the Fair Housing Act. This law established a national policy of providing fair housing throughout the United States. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:
- Race or color
- National origin
- Family status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under the age of 18)
In the sale and rental of housing, no one may discriminate against families based on the above categories by taking the following actions:
- Refusing to rent or sell housing
- Refusing to negotiate housing
- Making housing unavailable
- Denying a dwelling
- Setting different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling.
Fair housing is a right afforded to all persons seeking housing, whether they are Housing Choice participants or private market renters. Owners and landlords are obligated to comply with the law that guarantees this right.
- It shall be unlawful for any person to refuse to permit, at the expense of a person with a physical or mental disability, reasonable modifications of existing premises, occupied or to be occupied by a person with such a disability, if the proposed modifications may be necessary to afford the person with such a disability full enjoyment of the premises of a dwelling. In the case of a rental, the landlord may, where it is reasonable to do so, condition permission for a modification on the renter agreeing to restore the interior of the premises to the condition that existed before the modification, reasonable wear and tear excepted. The landlord may not increase for persons with physical or mental disabilities any customarily required security deposit. However, where it is necessary in order to ensure with reasonable certainty that funds will be available to pay for the restorations at the end of the tenancy, the landlord may negotiate as part of such a restoration agreement a provision requiring that the tenant pay into an interest bearing escrow account, over a reasonable period, a reasonable amount of money not to exceed the cost of the restorations. The interest in any such account shall accrue to the benefit of the tenant.
- A landlord may condition permission for a modification on the renter providing a reasonable description of the proposed modifications as well as reasonable assurances that the work will be done in a workmanlike manner and that any
- http://www.maine.gov/mhrc/laws/index.htm – Chapter 8
Maine State Law: Service Animals click here
Guidelines of living standards by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): A Good Place to Live!
Pine Tree Legal Assistance has resources on Landlord-Tenant laws here: Pine Tree Legal Assistance.
Mediation Services: Volunteers of America