In Maine, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by 14 ME Rev. Stat. §6021. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.
|Ceiling Leaks, Hot/Cold Water, Plumbing. Electrical.
|Time Limit for Repairs
|Tenant Recourse Options
Applicable Dwelling Types in Maine
The implied warranty of habitability in Maine does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.
|Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?
|Not specifically addressed
|Not specifically addressed
|Mobile home parks
|Not specifically addressed
All leases in Maine contain an implied warranty, otherwise known as the Maine Warranty of Habitability. This ensures tenants that the landlord will provide a dwelling unit fit for human habitation.
This law does not apply to apartment buildings with five or fewer apartments and one of which is occupied by the landlord.
Landlord Responsibilities in Maine
The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability. Not all of them are requirements in Maine, as indicated below.
Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.
|Provide windows and doors that are in good repair.
|Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks.
|Provide hot and cold running water.
|Provide working HVAC equipment.
|Heat is required
|Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.
|Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking
|Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).
|Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services).
|Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe.
|Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe.
|Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean.
|Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials.
|Provide working smoke detectors
|Provide a mailbox.
|Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.
|Provide working kitchen appliances.
|Provide working carbon monoxide detector.
|Provide a working washer/dryer.
Maine’s Warranty of Habitability law states that if the landlord provides heat, it must be kept at a healthful level for tenants. The dwelling unit’s heating equipment must be able to maintain a minimum temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit at a distance of three feet from the exterior walls and five feet above floor level at an outside temperature of minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Landlords are prohibited from renting a unit known or suspected 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.
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.
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.
Repairs, Recourse & Retaliation in Maine
If a rental property is in violation of the implied warranty of habitability in Maine, state laws outline how the repair process works, what tenants can do if repairs aren’t made, and how tenants are protected against retaliating landlords.
Requesting Repairs in Maine
Maine tenants can request repairs by describing the issue that needs fixing 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. Tenants are expected to request repairs promptly after noticing an issue.
Renter’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Maine
Renters in Maine have the right to repairs for issues that affect health and safety, unless they caused the issue themselves. The landlord gets a reasonable time after notice to perform repairs, as judged by total circumstances case by case.
If the issue isn’t fixed, the renter can file a court action to get an injunction for repairs, and can pursue other potential remedies like monetary damages or a rent abatement. Renters can also repair and deduct, but aren’t allowed to withhold rent. Read More
Landlord Retaliation in Maine
Maine landlords can’t 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 fair housing complaints.
- Notifying the landlord of victimization related to the tenancy.
- Participating in a tenant organization.
There’s an exception allowed for non-retaliatory, good-faith motivations. For example, it’s not retaliation to evict a tenant who hasn’t ever paid the rent.
Retaliation in Maine is a defense to eviction. If the landlord can’t rebut presumed retaliation, the judge will dismiss the eviction and related actions.
Municipal Intervention for Basic Necessities
A municipal officer of any city or town in Maine may provide repairs or services to tenants who are in an imminent threat of living in an uninhabitable dwelling unit. There is a list of procedures a municipal officer must follow to proceed with the services. The municipal officer must attempt to contact the landlord in person, by telephone or by certified mail to provide those services to the tenant before intervening. If there is no timely response from the landlord, the municipality may provide the basic necessities or services to ensure proper function of the dwelling unit and shall place a lien against the landlord for the monies owed for the services or repairs.