What You Need to Know About Eviction in Maine

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Maine's eviction law declares that a landlord must have cause and present their tenant with a written seven-day notice before filing an eviction lawsuit. All evictions must pass through all the proper channels of the court, so it is crucial to have a basic understanding of the law to protect your rights. 
We are living in truly unprecedented times. With such an uncertain economy and the effects of COVID-19 still looming, many Maine residents remain at risk of eviction. This constant unpredictability makes it essential that every tenant understand their state's eviction laws. 
Thankfully, Jerry, the super app created to save you on renters and car insurance, has created a guide on Maine’s eviction laws. We’ll cover the eviction process’s general timeline, the landlord’s requirements, and give you vital tips so you can keep yourself protected from an illegitimate eviction. 
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Maine eviction 101: the three ways you can be evicted

One rule applies to every eviction in Maine: the landlord must give the tenant written notice before filing an eviction lawsuit. If the tenant has a signed lease, the landlord must provide the tenant with seven days' written notice. If the tenant is a tenant-at-will (no signed lease), the landlord only has to give three days' written notice.
Evictions in Maine are categorized into three types based on cause. Your landlord has the right to evict you for:
  • Non-payment of rent: requires a seven-day notice to allow the tenant to pay the outstanding rent
  • Violating the lease: requires a seven-day notice to allow the tenant to amend any violations established in the lease, such as, damaging the property and disrupting the neighbors
  • Illegal behavior: requires a seven-day notice ordering the tenant to move out
Your landlord cannot threaten to evict you just because they feel like it. They must have valid reasons known as "material breaches," meaning there was a violation of a major agreement in the lease. Know the fine details of your lease to avoid unknowingly committing any violations. 
No matter the reason for your eviction, they have the legal right to evict you if you cannot rectify the situation after issuing the proper warning. Court hearings will be set, and both the landlord and tenant will have the opportunity to plead their cases. 

A timeline of eviction in Maine

So we’ve established that tenants will be issued a seven-day warning before being evicted, but just how long does the lawsuit process take? Here is a simple breakdown of the timeline of the different lawsuits in Maine:
StepHow long it typically takesWhat to expect
Notice posted7-30 daysLandlord begins the eviction process after having a valid cause
Complaint is filed and served7 daysAfter filing the lawsuit, a summons and complaint will be served by a sheriff or officer of the court
Court hearing and judgment10 daysThe eviction hearing will be held within 10 days of the summons, and if ruled in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be evicted
Writ of Possession issued7 daysThe court's final notice for the tenant to leave the rental unit before being removed with force
Possession of property is returned48 hoursTenants must vacate the premises within 48 hours or be deemed a trespasser and forcibly removed
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The eviction process can be lengthy, and the exact speed of the timeline is heavily dependent on your landlord. You could have a month before a sheriff shows up at your door, but it can be a lot sooner if your landlord is more determined and persistent. 

How to resist eviction in Maine

Remember, tenants have rights too. If your landlord is threatening eviction, you can fight back and appeal in multiple ways:
  • Amend the cause for the eviction: The fastest way to fight an eviction and avoid further legal action is to solve the root of the problem. Whatever the issue may be, working towards a resolution will be your most efficient course of action in this case.
  • Identify procedural error: Understanding your state’s eviction law can give you a leg up should your landlord threaten to evict you. Knowing what to look for can help you find any failure to follow procedure and thus have the case thrown out.
  • Unfit or unsafe housing: If you can prove that you are behind on your rent because of problems your landlord refused to fix, then you cannot be evicted. You can ask the court to have your rent lowered.
  • Discrimination defense: It is illegal in Maine to evict someone due to their race, sexual orientation, impairments and more. If you feel you are being evicted solely because of one of these reasons, you could win your appeal and keep your home. 
If applicable, you can apply these defenses to respond to the landlord's eviction lawsuit or even sue them outright. Should you win the case, you could be awarded court fees, damages, and last but not least, permitted to remain in your home.

How to save money on Maine car and renters insurance

Inflation and rent hikes are two of the most common reasons more and more tenants fail to come up with the rent. In today's economy, budgeting is becoming increasingly complex, and you need to save wherever you can.
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