Landlords should familiarize themselves with the statewide rules and procedures that govern evictions in the state of Maine and understand their responsibilities.
Quick Facts for Maine
- Grounds for Eviction: Failing to pay rent, illegal activity, failure to move at lease’s end, lease agreement violations & wishing to occupy the property him/herself
- Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: 7-Day Notice to Pay or Quit, after which Forcible Entry Detainer case may be filed
- Notice Required for Eviction without Cause: 30-Day Notice to Quit
- Notice Required for Lease Violations: 7-Day Notice to Quit
- Fastest a Landlord Can Evict for Illegal Acts: 7 days, via Notice to Quit
- Duration for Tenant to Appeal Eviction Ruling: 6 days
How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant in Maine?
In the state of Maine, the eviction process may be both lengthy and expensive. There is no one simple answer to the question of how long an eviction will take. The amount of time an eviction can be expected to take will depend upon the reason the landlord is seeking to evict the tenant as well as the tenant’s willingness to fight the eviction process.
To protect tenants and provide support to the eviction process, the state has created simple guidelines regarding how a landlord must proceed when seeking to evict tenants. The process requires that the landlord begin by providing tenants with notice of his/her intention to remove them from the rental property. In most instances a landlord must provide a minimum 7-Day Notice. When the tenant is renting without the benefit of a lease, and the landlord has no cause to seek eviction, he/she must provide the tenant with a written 30-Day Notice.
If a tenant fails to move from the rental property within the amount of time indicated on the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry Detainer case with the court. If the tenant fights the eviction process through the court system, there is no way of predicting the amount of time this process with take.
Reasons for Eviction in Maine
There are several legal reasons that a landlord may seek to evict a tenant. In the state of Maine, a landlord may seek to evict a tenant for:
- Failing to pay rent
- Illegal activity
- Failure to move at the end of the lease
- violation of “material provisions” of the lease or rental agreement
- Wishing to occupy the property him/herself
It should be noted that violations of all aspects of the terms of the lease are not equal in the state of Maine. In order for a tenant to be evicted, the tenant must have breached a term of the lease that has relative significance. For example, a tenant could be evicted for causing a disturbance to other tenants or causing significant damage to the rental property.
Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent
If a tenant fails to pay rent, a landlord must provide a written 7-Day Notice to Pay or Quit before he/she may legally proceed with the eviction process (M.R.S.A. 14-6002). If the tenant fails to pay the outstanding rent in full within seven days, he/she must leave the rental property. If the tenant fails to pay the outstanding rent and remains on the property, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry Detainer claim with the court.
Eviction if Rent has Been Paid
In the state of Maine, a landlord may only evict a tenant without cause when there is no written lease. When the tenant is an “at-will” tenant, the landlord may evict him/her regardless of cause so long as the appropriate amount of notice is provided. A landlord must provide a 30-Day Notice to quit to “at-will” tenants when he/she has no cause for seeking the eviction. If the landlord has cause to seek the tenant’s eviction, he/she must only provide a 7-Day Notice to Quit.
Evicting a Tenant For Violation of Rental Agreement/Lease
In the state of Maine, a tenant may be evicted due to a “material lease provision.” When a tenant has violated a significant aspect of the lease or rental agreement, the landlord is required to provide a written 7-Day Notice to Quit (M.R.S.A. 14-6002). If the tenant remains on the rental property beyond the time allowed in the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry Detainer case with the court.
Evicting a Tenant for Illegal Behavior
In Maine, illegal behavior is regarded as any other “material” breach in the terms of the lease or rental agreement and may be dealt with in the same way. When a tenant has behaved in an illegal fashion, the landlord must provide him/her with a 7-Day Notice to Quit (M.R.S.A. 14-6002). If the tenant refuses to move within the seven days allowed, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry Detainer case with the court.
How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant When There is no Lease?
When a tenant is renting without benefit of a written lease, he/she is considered to be an “at-will” tenant. In the state of Maine, a landlord may evict an “at-will” tenant without cause. However, he/she must first provide the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant refuses to move in the time allowed, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry Detainer case with the court.
If the tenant has given the landlord cause, he/she may proceed by providing the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Quit (M.R.S.A. 14-6002). If the tenant remains beyond the seven days, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry Detainer case with the court.
When Can a Tenant Not Be Evicted in Maine?
In the state of Maine it is illegal for a landlord to attempt to evict a tenant based on his/her gender, race, religion, nation of origin, familial status, or disability status. It is also illegal for a landlord to seek to evict a tenant within six months of:
- Making a claim for repairs with the landlord
- Making a complaint to an agency or government organization regarding building violations or health and sanitation regulations
- Lodging a Fair Housing complaint
- Informing the landlord that he/she or a minor child is the victim of sexual assault, domesitic violence, or stalking
- Joining a tenant organization or union
After a Notice Has Been Served
The landlord may proceed to the court and file a Forcible Entry Detainer case as early as the day after the notice indicates the tenant must vacate the property. Generally, a deputy sheriff will serve the tenant with court papers providing information including the time and place of the court hearing. If the sheriff is unable to serve the tenant, the landlord may tack a copy of the complaint to the front door of the rental property and mail another copy to the tenant.
The tenant should send a written response to the complaint to the court a minimum of 24 hours prior to the hearing. Both sides will be provided with time to tell their side of the issue.
If the tenant fails to attend the eviction hearing, the judge will most likely enter a default judgement in favor of the landlord.
Once Eviction Occurs
If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant has six days to make an appeal. To obtain a new trial, the tenant must prove to the court that they and the landlord disagree about the facts of the case. If the tenant disagrees with how the landlord interpreted the laws, the court may review the trial, but no new trial will be awarded.
If an appeal isn’t made, the landlord may obtain a Writ of Possession from the court after waiting seven days. The landlord can then ask for help from thee sheriff’s department in eviction the tenant. A tenant is legally required to move from the rental property within 48 hours of receiving the writ. If the tenant continues to refuse to leave, he/she is considered a trespasser and may be removed by force. If this occurs, the landlord may place any remaining property belonging to the tenant in storage at the tenant’s expense.
Make sure to read the Maine Revised Statutes title 14 §6002 before starting the eviction process. Landlords should make sure to educate themselves on their rights and responsibilities on this topic.