Maine
Eviction Process

The CDC issued a halt on evictions until Dec. 31 for qualifying renters. Click here

Timeline. Evicting a tenant in Maine can take around 1-2 months, depending on the reason for the eviction. If tenants file an appeal, the process can take longer (read more).

Questions? To chat with a Maine eviction attorney, Click here

Below are the individual steps of the eviction process in Maine.

Step 1: Notice is Posted

Landlords in Maine can begin the eviction process for several reasons, including:

  1. Nonpayment of Rent – Once rent is past due, notice must be served giving the tenant the option to pay rent in order to avoid eviction.
  2. Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement – If a tenant violates a provision of a written lease/rental agreement, the landlord isn’t required to give the tenant the opportunity to correct the issue before moving forward with the eviction process.
  3. No Lease / End of Lease Term (Tenant at Will) – If there is no lease or the term of the lease has ended, the landlord does not need any additional reason to end the tenancy as long as proper notice is given (if required).
  4. Material Health / Safety Violation – If the tenant violates a health, building, safety, or housing code, they must be given written notice before the eviction process can continue.
  5. Illegal Activity – If a tenant is engaged in illegal activity, notice must be served on the tenant prior to proceeding with the eviction action.
NOTES
  • Retaliatory Evictions. It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for complaining to the landlord or to the appropriate local or government agency regarding the property. It is also illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for joining, supporting, or organizing a tenant organization or union.
  • Evicting a Squatter. If the individual occupying the property didn’t have the landlord’s permission when initially moving in, doesn’t have a lease (or verbal agreement) and has no history of paying rent, then the person is not an authorized occupant and, according to Maine law, the normal eviction process would apply (read more).

Each possible ground for eviction has its own rules for how the process starts.

Eviction Process for Nonpayment of Rent

A landlord is allowed to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent on time.

According to Maine law, rent is considered late if it is not paid within 15 days of the due date.

Once rent is past due for tenants at will, or for tenants whose written lease doesn’t cover written notices prior to termination, the landlord must provide tenants with a 7-Day Notice to Pay, giving the tenant 7 days to pay the past-due rent amount in order to avoid eviction.

For all other written leases/rental agreements, the amount of notice required depends on the terms of the written lease/rental agreement.

If the tenant does not pay the rent due by the end of the notice period and remains on the property, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

Eviction Process for Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement

A tenant can be evicted in Maine if they do not uphold their responsibilities under the terms of a written lease/rental agreement.

For tenants with written leases/rental agreements that don’t address the notice period, Maine landlords are required to provide tenants with a 7-Day Notice to Quit, giving the tenant 7 days to move out of the rental unit.

For all other written leases/rental agreements, the amount of notice required is addressed in the lease/rental agreement.

Typical lease violations under this category could include things like damaging the rental property, having too many people residing in the rental unit, and having a pet when there’s a no-pet policy.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period (if any) expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

Eviction Process for Material Health / Safety Violation

At-will tenants can be evicted in Maine if they cause substantial damage to the rental unit and/or make the rental unit unfit for human habitation. Both of these violations materially affect the health/safety of the tenant and/or other residents.

In those instances, landlords are required to provide tenants with a 7-Day Notice to Quit, giving the tenant 7 days to move out of the rental unit.

Examples of material health/safety violations could include letting trash pile up inside the rental unit, providing a harbor for rodents or bugs, or even things like damaging the electrical wiring in the rental unit.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

Eviction Process for No Lease / End of Lease

In the state of Maine, if tenants “hold over,” or stay in the rental unit after the rental term has expired, then the landlord may be required to give tenants notice before evicting them. This can include tenants without a written lease and week-to-week and month-to-month tenants.

Often this type of eviction applies to tenants who are at the end of their lease and the landlord doesn’t want to renew.

Regardless of the length or type of tenancy, at-will tenants must be given 30 days’ written notice before landlords may begin the eviction process.

For tenants with written leases, once the rental agreement/lease term expires, landlords may file an eviction action within 7 days of the date the rental agreement/lease term expired without written notice to the tenant.

If at-will tenants remain on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may continue with the eviction process.

Eviction Process for Illegal Activity

Tenants of a rental unit who are involved in illegal activity must be given 7 days’ notice before the landlord can proceed with an eviction action.

In Maine, illegal activity includes :

  • Domestic violence
  • Stalking
  • Sexual assault
  • Violence/threat of violence against another tenant/a tenant’s guest/landlord/landlord’s agent or employee
  • Prostitution
  • Any other violation of the law

This notice requirement applies to at-will tenants and tenants with written leases that don’t specify a written notice period for terminating the lease.

For all other written leases, the notice period (if any) is specified in the lease.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period (if any) expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

Questions? To chat with a Maine eviction attorney, Click here

Step 2: Complaint is Filed and Served

As the next step in the eviction process, Maine landlords must file a complaint in the appropriate court. In the state of Maine, this costs $100 in filing fees and an additional $25 if a writ of possession is issued.

The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant by the sheriff, deputy sheriff, or other person authorized by the court at least 7 days prior to the eviction hearing, through any one of the following methods :

  1. Giving a copy to the tenant in person
  2. Leaving a copy with someone at the tenant’s residence
  3. Mailing a copy via first class mail AND leaving a copy at the tenant’s residence

Mailing may only be done if all other methods of service fail.

7 days. The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant at least 7 days prior to the date of the eviction hearing.

Step 3: Court Hearing and Judgment

The eviction hearing must be held within 10 days of the return date listed on the summons.

Tenants are not required to file a written answer with the court in order to attend the eviction hearing; however, if they want the hearing to be recorded, then they must file a written answer.

Recordings are typically required for appeals, so if the tenant thinks they may want to appeal, then it would be in their best interest to file a written answer to ensure that the hearing is recorded so a transcript of the proceedings can be provided to the appeals court.

If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, a writ of possession will be issued and the eviction process will continue.

10 days. The eviction hearing must be held within 10 days of the return date listed on the summons.

Step 4: Writ of Possession Is Issued

The writ of possession is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit, and gives them the opportunity to remove their belongings before law enforcement returns to the property to forcibly remove them.

The writ will be issued 7 days after the date the ruling in favor of the landlord is issued, and can only be given to the defendant by a sheriff or constable (not the landlord).

7 days. The writ of possession will be issued 7 days after the ruling in favor of the landlord.

Step 5: Possession of Property is Returned

Tenants must move out of the rental unit within 48 hours of receiving the writ of possession, or they will be forcibly removed by law enforcement officers.

A sheriff or constable must deliver the writ to the tenants. This cannot be done by the landlord.

48 hours. The tenant has 48 hours to move out after receiving the writ of possession.

Questions? To chat with a Maine eviction attorney, Click here

Maine Eviction Process Timeline

Below is a summary of the aspects outside of the landlord’s control that dictate the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant in Maine. With that being said, these estimates can vary greatly, and some time periods may not include weekends or legal holidays.

  1. Initial Notice Period – between 7 and 30 days, depending on the notice type and reason for eviction.
  2. Issuance/Service of Summons and Complaint – 7 days prior to the eviction hearing.
  3. Court Hearing and Ruling on the Eviction – within 10 days of the return date listed on the summons.
  4. Issuance of Writ of Possession – 7 days after the ruling in favor of the landlord.
  5. Return of Possession – 48 hours after the writ is posted/delivered.

Flowchart of Maine Eviction Process

For additional questions about the eviction process in Maine, please refer to the official legislation, Maine Revised Statutes §§6001-6017, §6028, and the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 4, for more information.