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.
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.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs||Not specifically addressed|
|RV parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Yes|
|Condos||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.
|Habitability Issue||Landlord Responsibility?|
|Provide windows and doors that are in good repair.||Not addressed|
|Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks.||Ceiling leaks|
|Provide hot and cold running water.||Yes|
|Provide working HVAC equipment.||Heat is required|
|Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.||Yes|
|Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking||Not addressed|
|Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).||Not addressed|
|Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services).||Not addressed|
|Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe.||Not addressed|
|Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe.||Not addressed|
|Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean.||Not addressed|
|Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials.||Not addressed|
|Provide working smoke detectors||Not addressed|
|Provide a mailbox.||Not addressed|
|Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.||Not addressed|
|Provide working kitchen appliances.||Not addressed|
|Provide working carbon monoxide detector.||Not addressed|
|Provide a working washer/dryer.||Not addressed|
Maine’s Warranty of Habitability law states that if landlord’s 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.
Tenant’s Right to Repairs in Maine
If tenants request repairs, they must put their request in writing.
- Sending Notice – The tenant must send the notice and keep a copy for himself. The landlord will then have 14 days to make any necessary repairs after receiving written notice.
- Landlord Access – Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs. However, a landlord must give tenants “reasonable” notice. According to Maine law, 24 hours’ notice is presumed “reasonable” unless it’s an emergency.
Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made in Maine
If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.
- Withhold Rent – Maine landlord tenant law allows a tenant in Maine to withhold rent in response to habitability issues.
- Repair and deduct – If the landlord fails to make the requested repair within 14 days, a tenant has the right to make the repairs themselves and deduct the amount from their monthly rent upon submitting an itemized statement of expenses. Repairs must cost less than $500 or half their monthly rent, whichever is greater.
- Lawsuit – Tenants also have the right to take legal action in District Court or Superior Court for a condition that impacts a tenant’s health or safety.
- Reporting to Public Officials – For any violation of the local health codes that affect the tenant’s health, tenants can contact their local health code officer or code enforcement officer
Landlord Retaliation in Maine
Retaliation against tenants for requesting repairs that affect habitability within six months of a complaint is illegal under Maine law. Landlords cannot interrupt essential services or refuse access to property by the tenant in retaliation for exercising their legal rights such as:
- Complaining to the landlord regarding habitability issues.
- Filing a complaint in court for any breach in the implied warranty of habitability.
- Joining a tenant’s organization.
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.