Maine Landlord Tenant Law - Click here to return to US Landlord
Section 6001. Availability of remedy
1. Persons against whom process may be maintained. Process of
forcible entry and detainer may be maintained against a disseisor who has not
acquired any claim by possession and improvement; against a tenant holding under
a written lease or contract, or person holding under such tenant; against a tenant
where the occupancy of the premises is incidental to the employment of a tenant; at
expiration or forfeiture of the term, without notice, if commenced within 7 days
from the expiration or forfeiture of the term; and against a tenant at will, whose
tenancy has been terminated as provided in section 6002.
2. Persons who may not maintain process. The process of forcible entry
and detainer may not be maintained against a tenant by a 3rd party lessee, grantee,
assignee or donee of the tenant's premises, unless a tenant at will has received
notice of termination in accordance with section 6002 by either the grantor or the
grantee of the conveyance.
3. Presumption of retaliation. In any action of forcible entry and
detainer there shall be a presumption that the action was commenced in retaliation
against a tenant if, within 6 months prior to the commencement of the action, the
A. Asserted his rights pursuant to section 6021.
B. Complained as an individual, or a complaint has been made in
that individual's behalf, in good faith, of conditions affecting that individual's
dwelling unit which may constitute a violation of a building, housing, sanitary or
other code, ordinance, regulation or statute, presently or hereafter adopted, to a
body charged with enforcement of that code, ordinance, regulation or statute, or
such a body has filed a notice or complaint of such a violation.
C. Complained in writing or made a written request, in good faith,
to the landlord or the landlord's agent to make repairs on the premises as required
by any applicable building, housing or sanitary code, or by section 6021, or as
required by the rental agreement between the parties; or
D. Been the beneficiary of general assistance paid into escrow pursuant of
Title 22, section 4325. This paragraph is repealed on October 1, 1991.
No writ of possession may issue in the absence of rebuttal of the presumption of
4. Membership in tenant's organization. No writ of possession may
issue when the tenant proves that the action of forcible entry and detainer was
commenced in retaliation for tenant's membership in an organization concerned
with landlord-tenant relationships.
Section 6002. Tenancy at will; buildings on land of another
Tenancies at will must be terminated by either party by 30 days' notice, except as
provided in subsection 1, in writing for the purpose given to the other party, and
not otherwise, excepting cases where the tenant, if liable to pay rent, shall not be in
arrears at the expiration of the notice, in which case the 30 days' notice shall be
made to expire upon a rent day, provided that either party may waive in writing said
30 days' notice at the time said notice is given, and at no other time prior to the
giving of such notice. Such termination shall not be affected by the receipt of
moneys, whether previously owed or for current use and occupation, until the date a
writ of possession is issued against the tenant during the period of actual occupancy
after receipt of said notice. When the tenancy is terminated, the tenant is liable to
the process of forcible entry and detainer without further notice and without proof
of any relation of landlord and tenant unless he has paid, after service of the notice,
rent that accrued after termination of the tenancy. These provisions apply to
tenancies of buildings erected on land of another party. Termination of the tenancy
shall be deemed to occur at the expiation of the time fixed in the notice.
1. Causes for 7-day notice of termination of tenancy. Notwithstanding
any other provision of this chapter, in the event that the landlord can show, by
affirmative proof, that the tenant's family or an invitee of the tenant has caused
substantial damage to the premises which the tenant has not repaired or caused to
be repaired before the giving of notice provided in this subsection, has caused or
permitted a nuisance within the premises, has caused or permitted an invitee to
cause the dwelling unit to become unfit for human habitation or has violated or
permitted a violation of the law regarding the tenancy, or when the tenant is 14 days
or more in arrears in payment of his rent, the tenancy may be terminated by the
landlord by 7 days' notice in writing for that purpose given to the tenant, and in the
event that the landlord or his agent has made at least 3 good faith efforts to serve
the tenant, that service may be accomplished by both mailing the notice by first
class mail to the tenant's last known address and by leaving the notice at the
tenant's last and usual place of abode. If a tenant, who is 14 days or more in
arrears in payment of his rent, pays the full amount of rent due before the
expiration of the 7-days' notice in writing, that notice shall be void. Payment or
written assurance of payment through the general assistance program, as authorized
by the State or a municipality pursuant to Title 22, chapter 1251, shall be given the
same effect as payment in cash.
2. Ground for termination notice. Any notice of termination issued
pursuant to subsection 1 shall indicate the specific ground claimed for issuing the
notice. If a ground claimed is rent arrearage of 14 days or more, the notice shall
also include a statement indicating that the tenant can negate the effect of the notice
of termination as it applies to rent arrearage if he pays the full amount of rent due
before the expiration of the notice.
3. Breach of warranty of habitability as an affirmative defense. In an
action brought by the landlord to terminate a rental agreement on the ground that
the tenant is in arrears in payment of his rent, the tenant may raise as a defense any
alleged violation of implied warranty and covenant of habitability, provided that the
landlord or the landlord's agent has actual constructive notice of the alleged
violation, and has unreasonably failed under the circumstances to take prompt,
effective steps to repair or remedy the condition and the condition was not caused
by the tenant or other persons acting under the tenant's control. Upon finding that
the dwelling unit is not fit for human habitation, the court shall permit the tenant
either to terminate the rental agreement without prejudice or to reaffirm the rental
agreement, with the court assessing against the tenant an amount equal to the
reduced fair rental value of the property for the period during which rent is owed.
The reduced amount of rent thus owed shall be paid on a pro rate basis, unless the
parties agree otherwise, and payments shall become due at the same intervals as
rent for the current rental period. The landlord may not charge the tenant for full
rental value of the property until such time as it is fit for human habitation.
Section 6003. Jurisdiction.
The District Court shall have jurisdiction of cases of forcible entry and detainer.
If either in a forcible entry and detainer action requests a recorded hearing, the court
shall schedule and hold the hearing as soon as practicable, but no later than 10 days
after the return day. Any defendant requesting a recorded hearing shall file a
written answer enumerating all known defenses on or before the return day.
Section 6004. Commencement of action; recognizance
The process of forcible entry and detainer shall be commenced and service made in
the same manner as other civil actions, When the plaintiff lives out of the State and
recognizance is required of him, any person in his behalf shall be personally liable.
Section 6005. Writ of possession; service
When the defendant is defaulted or fails to show sufficient cause, judgement shall
be rendered against him by the District Court for possession of the premises and a
writ of possession be issued to remove him, which may be served by a constable.
An additional writ of possession may be issued by the clerk at the request of the
plaintiff after issuance of the first writ.
When a writ of possession has been served on the defendant by a constable or
sheriff, and the defendant fails to remove himself or his possession within 48 hours
of service by the constable or sheriff, the defendant is deemed a trespasser without
right and the defendant's goods and property are considered by law to be
abandoned and subject to section 6013.
Section 6006. Claim of title
When the defendant claims title in himself or in another person under whom he
claims the premises, he shall, except as otherwise provided, recognize in a
reasonable sum to the plaintiff, with sufficient sureties, conditioned to pay
intervening damages and costs and a reasonable rent for the premises. The plaintiff
shall in a like manner recognize to the defendant, conditioned to enter the action in
the Superior Court within 30 days and to pay all costs adjusted against him. If
either party neglects so to recognize, judgement shall be rendered against him.
Section 6007. Allegation that defendant's claim is frivolous
The plaintiff may make a written allegation that the defendant's claim of title is
frivolous and intended for delay and the judge shall then examine the case so far as
to ascertain the truth of such allegation, and if satisfied of the truth thereof, he shall
proceed to try the cause, and if it is determined in favor of the plaintiff, he may
issue a writ of possession for removal of the defendant; but shall not prevent an
appeal as provided in section 6008.
Section 6008. Appeals
Either party may appeal on questions of law from a judgement to the Superior
Court as in other civil actions. Either party may appeal on any issues triable by
right by a jury to a trial de novo in the Superior Court as provided in this section.
When the defendant appeals, the Superior Court may stay the issuance of a writ of
possession pending disposition of the appeal. The Superior Court shall condition
the granting and continuation of the stay on the defendant's payment of the current
rent for the premises into an escrow account to be administered by the clerk of the
Superior Court and, in all appropriate cases, on the defendant's agreement to
refrain from any nuisance or damage. Upon finding a violation of the condition for
granting the stay, the Superior Court shall vacate the stay. Upon application of
either party, the Superior Court may authorize payments from the escrow accounts
for appropriate expenses related to the premises. The appeal decision or an
agreement of the parties shall provide for the disposition of the escrowed rent.
The procedures with respect to the appeal of an issue triable by right by a jury to
trial de novo in Superior Court shall be set forth in rules to be promulgated by the
Supreme Judicial Court.
Section 6009. Judgement for plaintiff; possession on recognizance; damages
When judgement is rendered for the plaintiff a writ of possession may issue in all
cases if he recognizes to the defendant in the manner before provided, conditioned
to pay all such damages and costs as may be awarded against him if final judgement
is rendered for the defendant. When either party appeals, the plaintiff may give
evidence of any claim rent of the premises, to be set off against damages claimed
against by the defendant.
Section 6010. Sums due for rent and damages
Sums due for rent on leases under seal or otherwise and claims for damages to
premises rented may be recovered in an action, specifying the items and amount
claimed, but no action shall be maintained for any sums claimed to be due for rental
or for claim for damages for the breach of any of the conditions claimed to be
broken on the part of the lessee, his legal representatives, assigns or tenant,
contained in a lease or written agreement to hire or occupy any building, buildings
or part of a building, during a period when such building, buildings or part of a
building, which the lessee, his assigns, legal representatives or tenant may occupy
or have a right to occupy, shall have been destroyed or damaged by fire or other
unavoidable casualty so that the same shall be therefore rendered unfit for use or
habitation; provided that nothing herein shall render invalid or unenforceable an
agreement contained in a lease or any building, buildings, or part of a building used
primarily for other than residential purposes or in the case of any lease securing
obligations guaranteed by the Maine Guaranty Authority or in any written
instrument to pay the rental stipulated in said lease or agreement or any portion of
such rental during a period when the building, buildings, or part of a building
described therein shall have been destroyed or damaged by fire or other unavoidable
casualty so that the same shall be rendered unfit for use or habitation, in whole or in
In any action for sums due for rent, if the court finds that;
1. Notice of conditions. The tenant, without unreasonable delay, gave to
the landlord or to the person who customarily collects rent on behalf of the landlord
written notice of a condition which rendered the rented premises unfit for human
2. Cause of condition. The condition was not caused by the tenant or
another person acting under his control;
3. Failure to take steps. The landlord unreasonably failed under the
circumstances to take prompt, effective steps to repair or remedy the condition; and
4. Rental payments current. The tenant is current in rental payments
owing to the landlord at the time written notice was given.
Then the court shall deduct from the amount of rent due and owing the difference
between the rental price and the fair value of the use and occupancy of the premises
from the time or written notice, as provided in subsection 1, to the time when the
condition is repaired or remedied. In determining the fair value of the use and
occupancy of the premises, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the rental
price is fair value of the rented premises free from any condition rendering it unfit
for human habitation. Any agreement by a tenant to waive the rights or benefits
provided by this section shall be void. A written agreement whereby the tenant
accepts specified conditions which may violate the warranty of fitness for human
habitation in return for a stated reduction in rent or other specified fair
consideration shall be binding on the tenant and the landlord.
Section 6011. House of ill fame; lease void at landlord's option
When the tenant of a dwelling house is convicted of keeping it as a house of ill
fame, the lease or contract by which he occupies it may, at the option of the
landlord, be denied void and the landlord shall have the same remedy to recover
possession as against a tenant holding over after his term expires.