Maine Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Maine Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Last Updated: May 3, 2023

Tenants in Maine have the legal right to repairs for issues that place the property in violation of state health and safety standards. To exercise this right, they must properly notify the landlord in writing, or explained directly to the person who collects rent, and allow a reasonable time for the repairs to be made.

Maine Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs

Maine landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good working condition:

  • Required heating.
  • Common areas.
  • Anything impacting health, safety, or habitability.

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What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in Maine?

Maine tenants are responsible for repairing any damage they cause to the property which affects health and safety.

On a case by case basis, the landlord and tenant can agree in writing for the tenant to accept or repair a property that wouldn’t otherwise be habitable. The tenant has to get specific, explicitly contracted benefits in exchange, like a reduction in rent.

Requesting Repairs in Maine

Maine tenants can request repairs by describing the issue in a written notice, or they can give any other form of actual notice to the person who customarily receives rent on behalf of the landlord.

How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in Maine?

Maine landlords have a “reasonable time” to make repairs after getting proper notice from the tenant. What’s reasonable will depend on the totality of circumstances, but the law expects prompt action from the landlord.

Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in Maine?

Maine landlords can refuse to make repairs if the tenant isn’t current on rent, caused the issue, or otherwise hasn’t followed the legally required process for notice. The landlord can also make a written agreement refusing repairs in exchange for specific benefits given to the tenant.

Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in Maine?

Maine landlords are not required to pay for alternative accommodation while they conduct repairs, although courts can order a landlord to provide alternative accommodation for a tenant if it’s appropriate during a case.

Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Maine

Maine tenants can sue for damages if the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs. They can also get an injunction to force repairs, or get permission to temporarily or permanently vacate the property.

Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in Maine?

Maine tenants are not allowed to withhold rent. For certain lesser repairs, tenants can deduct a portion of the rent, but withholding rent entirely is not permitted.

Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in Maine?

Maine tenants can repair and deduct to fix health and safety issues costing under $500 or half monthly rent (whichever is greater). Utility work must be professionally contracted, and tenants must give the landlord an itemized invoice for deductions. The 14 day notice must be written, by certified mail (except emergencies).

Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in Maine?

Maine tenants generally cannot break the lease, even when a landlord fails to repair. However, when an issue wrongfully and permanently prevents the intended use of the property, the tenant can end the lease by moving out and claiming constructive eviction.

Can the Tenant Sue in Maine?

Maine tenants can sue to force repairs or recover monetary damages, when the landlord fails to make timely repairs.

Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in Maine?

Maine tenants can report landlords for code violations that affect health or safety. Tenants should usually report to the local inspections or code enforcement department. If an inspecting officer finds a violation, the tenant could cancel the rental agreement, or sue to force repairs.

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Landlord Retaliation in Maine

It’s illegal for Maine landlords to retaliate by trying to evict tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions in the past six months:

  • Reporting health and safety violations.
  • Complaining to the landlord about maintenance.
  • Filing a fair housing complaint.
  • Notifying the landlord of a victimization related to the tenancy.
  • Participating in a tenant organization.

The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent proportionately in response to a large increase in property tax is not retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.

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