Steps of the eviction process in Maine:
- Landlord serves notice to tenant.
- Landlord files complaint with court (if unresolved).
- Court holds hearing and issues judgment.
- Writ of possession is issued.
- Possession of property is returned to landlord.
Evicting a tenant in Maine can take around one to two months, depending on the reason for the eviction. If tenants file an appeal, the process can take longer.
Grounds for an Eviction in Maine
In Maine, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause. Legal grounds to evict include not paying rent on time, staying after the lease ends, violating lease terms, and illegal activity. Even so, proper notice must first be given before ending the tenancy.
|Nonpayment of Rent||7 Days||Yes|
|End of / No Lease||30 Days||No|
|Lease Violation||7 Days||No|
|Illegal Activity||7 Days||No|
Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent
In Maine, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. To do so, they must first give 7 days’ notice to pay rent or vacate the premises. Unless the lease states otherwise, rent is considered late in Maine if it is not paid within 15 days of the due date.
Once rent is considered late the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.
Eviction for No Lease or End of Lease
In Maine, a landlord can evict a tenant without a lease or with a lease that has ended (known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving proper notice to move out (30 days for tenants that pay month-to-month).
Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.
Eviction for Violation of Lease or Responsibilities
In Maine, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease or not upholding their responsibilities under Maine landlord-tenant law. To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving 7 days’ notice to move out. The tenant is not allowed to fix the issue and must vacate the rental unit.
Tenant responsibilities include:
- Keeping the unit in a safe and habitable condition.
- Keeping fixtures clean and sanitary.
- Performing minor maintenance and repairs.
- Not disturbing other tenants or neighbors.
Examples of lease violations include:
- Violating a material health and safety code (i.e., letting trash pile up)
- Having an unauthorized occupant live on the premises.
- Causing a nuisance within the premises.
- Causing substantial damage to the rental unit.
- Committing a violation of the law.
- Allowing the rental unit to become unfit for human habitation.
Evictions for Illegal Activity
In Maine, a landlord can evict a tenant for an illegal activity. To do so, they must first provide the tenant with a 7 days’ notice to vacate before the landlord can proceed with an eviction action. The tenant is not allowed to fix the issue and must vacate the rental unit.
Illegal activity includes:
- Domestic violence.
- Sexual assault.
- Violence/threat of violence against another tenant/a tenant’s guest/landlord/landlord’s agent or employee.
- Any other violation of the law.
If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed and file an eviction lawsuit.
Illegal Evictions in Maine
In Maine, any of the below is illegal. If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant court costs, reasonable attorneys’ fees, plus $250 or actual damages sustained, whichever is greater.
No matter the situation, a landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:
- Changing the locks.
- Shutting off utilities.
- Removing tenant belongings.
A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process.
It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. These rights include:
- Complaining about a repair issue to the landlord or landlord’s agent.
- Filing a complaint to a government authority regarding a violation of a building, housing, or sanitary code.
- Joining a tenant’s union or organization.
- Pursuing a legal right to remedy habitability issues or radon testing.
- Filing a Fair Housing complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission.
- Filing a complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development regarding acts that are affecting the tenant’s occupancy.
- Informing the landlord that the tenant (or tenant’s child) is a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking.
- Communicating to the landlord of an act of sexual harassment or filed a complaint with a law enforcement agency, the Maine Human Rights Commission or a court of an act of sexual harassment by the landlord or landlord’s agent against the tenant or tenant’s family member.
Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant
A landlord can begin the eviction process in Maine by serving the tenant with written notice. The notice must be delivered in person. The landlord must attempt to deliver the notice in person 3 times, if the landlord fails to make an in-person delivery, the landlord may proceed by leaving a copy of the notice at the rental unit and mailing a copy via first class mail.
It is important for a landlord to always maintain a copy of the signed and served notice as proof of proper service of notice.
7-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
If a tenant is late on paying rent (full or partial) in Maine, the landlord can serve them a 7-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. This notice gives the tenant 7 calendar days to pay the entire remaining balance or vacate the premises.
30-Day Notice to Quit
For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease in Maine, the landlord must serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit to end the tenancy. This eviction notice allows the tenant 30 calendar days to move out.
For tenants that don’t pay monthly, the amount of notice does not change.
7-Day Notice to Quit
In Maine, if a tenant commits an illegal activity or a lease violation, the landlord can serve them a 7-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 7 calendar days to move out without the chance to fix the issue.
Step 2: Landlord Files Lawsuit with Court
As the next step in the eviction process, Maine landlords must file a complaint in the appropriate court.
The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant by the sheriff, deputy sheriff, or other person authorized by the court at least seven days prior to the eviction hearing, through any one of the following methods:
- Delivering a copy to the tenant personally.
- Leaving a copy with someone who is of “suitable” age.
- Delivering a copy to an agent authorized by appointment or by law.
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 Holds Hearing & Issues 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 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 the tenant 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 seven 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. If the tenant remains on the property, they are deemed as a trespasser and will be forcibly removed by the constable or sheriff. All personal property on the premises shall be considered as abandoned property.
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.
Maine Eviction Process Timeline
In Maine, an eviction can be completed in 1 to 2 months but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session and other various possible delays.
Below are the parts of the Maine eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.
|Initial Notice Period||7-30 Calendar Days|
|Court Issuing Summons||7 Business Days|
|Court Serving Summons||7 Business Days|
|Court Ruling||10 Business Days|
|Court Serving Writ of Possession||7 Business Days|
|Final Notice Period||48 Hours|
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.
- 1 14 ME Rev Stat §6002 (2020)
- 2 14 ME Rev Stat §6028 (2020)
- 3 14 ME Rev Stat §6002 (2020)
- 4 14 ME Rev Stat §6002 (2020)
- 5 14 ME Rev Stat §6002 (2020)
- 6 14 ME Rev Stat §6014 (2020)
- 7 14 ME Rev Stat §6001 (2020)
- 8 ME Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4 (2018)
- 9 ME Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4 (2018)
- 10 14 ME Rev Stat §6003 (2020)
- 11 14 ME Rev Stat §6005 (2020)
- 12 14 ME Rev Stat §6005 (2020)