Maine Habitability Laws

Maine law governs all landlord/tenant issues in the state.  Read further to learn what landlords are responsible for providing and how long they have to make repairs. Learn how tenants should request maintenance and how habitability applies to damages and security deposits.

Quick Facts for Maine

Who Does The Warranty of Habitability Apply To?

The Warranty of Habitability in Kentucky applies to short-term and long-term rental properties that are single-family or multi-family dwellings, as well as mobile home parks. It does not apply to hotels/motels.

How Long Do Tenants Have to Make Repairs?

N/A

What Are Tenants Responsible For?

Tenants are required to keep the rental reasonably clean; landlords can ask a tenant to clean up if they are not doing so. Tenants are allowed to deduct the costs of any repairs they make from their monthly rent.

What are Landlords Responsible For Providing?

Working HVAC equipment, plumbing, electrical, sanitation facilities, and elevators (in buildings that have them), as well as a trash can (for trash pickup services).Landlords are not liable for damage caused by the tenant, landlords must disclose elevated radon levels to tenants, and landlords cannot rent units known to contain bed bugs.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Fix Something?

After tenants request repairs, landlords must make them within 14 days. They must also provide 24 hours’ notice before entering the unit to make these repairs.

The following chart lays out which types of rental units the law applies to.

Understanding the Law

In Maine, many of the landlord/tenant laws only apply to rental properties having more than five units where the landlord does not occupy one of the units.

For all residential properties, landlords are required to ensure the property complies with any and all building codes and housing codes as they relate to the safety of the building and/or the health of the residents.

They’re also required to perform any repairs that make the unit livable, as long they are not caused by the tenant. 

Tenants are required to pay for any repairs caused by their own negligence or intentional acts, which may come out of the security deposit.

Landlord Responsibilities

The following chart lists common landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability.  Not all of them are requirements in Maine, as indicated below.

Bedbugs 

Landlords are prohibited from renting a unit known to have bed bugs.  If bedbugs are discovered in a rental unit after it has been rented out, the landlord has ten days to contact a professional pest control company about treating the unit.

If a landlord does not treat the unit, the tenant is entitled to $250 or actual damages, whichever is greater, plus any attorney fees.

Lead-Based Paint

For any rental property built prior to 1978 that is being repaired or renovated, the landlord must give a written, 30 day notice of the repair/renovation activity and a warning that there could be a lead hazard created by the activity.

Radon

If a landlord is aware that radon is present in the rental unit, the landlord is required to notify existing tenants within 30 days of discovering the presence of radon, or to notify prospective tenants of the issue prior to signing the lease.

If the radon test reveals higher than acceptable levels, tenants may terminate the lease with 30 days’ written notice.

Addressing Habitability Issues

For any repairs the landlord makes due to the tenant’s actions, the landlord can:

  • Use the tenant’s security deposit to pay for any damage to the property when the tenant moves out.
  • Pursue legal action.

Tenant Repair Requests

If tenants request repairs, they must put their request in writing.  The landlord will then have 14 days to make any necessary repairs after receiving written notice.

If the landlord fails to make the requested repairs within 14 days, a tenant has the right to make the repairs themselves and deduct the amount from their monthly rent.  Repairs must cost less than $500 or half their monthly rent, whichever is greater.

If the repairs are for a condition that impacts a tenant’s health or safety, the tenant must pursue legal action if the landlord fails to make the repairs. 

Landlord Access

Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs.  However, a landlord must give tenants 24 hours’ notice unless it’s an emergency.

Failure to Provide the “Essentials”

If a landlord intentionally or negligently fails to provide heat, water, electricity, and/or other “essentials,” tenants are allowed to:

  • Pay for any necessary utilities themselves and deduct this amount from the monthly rent until the landlord begins paying for utilities again.
  • Pursue legal action.  For failure to pay for utilities, landlords may be fined $100 or the actual utility amount paid by tenants, whichever is greater.

Retaliation

Retaliation against tenants for requesting repairs that affect habitability is illegal under Maine law.

Security Deposits and Repairs

Finally, if the costs for any repairs were taken out of the tenant’s security deposit, the landlord is required to provide an itemized list of everything paid from the deposit within 21 days, but not later than 30 days, of the lease’s termination.

Otherwise, for rental properties with more than five units, the landlord will be required to pay their tenant “double damages.”

Sources

  1. Maine Legislature, Revised Statutes, Title 14, Chapter 710, Rental Property.
  2. Maine Consumer Law Guide, “Consumer Rights When You Rent an Apartment.”

Read About the Warranty of Habitability in Other States