What You Need to Know About Maine’s Fair Housing Act

In Maine, you can’t be denied housing based on race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, and many other protected characteristics.
Written by Natalie Todoroff
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
, it is illegal for real estate agents, brokers, banks, and landlords to discriminate against someone because of their race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, disability, familial status, if they’re filing a restraining order against someone, or if they are a receipt of public assistance. 
Under both state and national law, it is illegal to deny someone housing based on specific factors of their identity. What began in 1968 with the passing of the Fair Housing Act continues to ring true today: you have a right to be housed, and it is illegal for someone to discriminate against you.
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Does Maine have a Fair Housing Act? 

Everything you'll need to know about Maine's Fair Housing Act can be found in
Chapter 337
of the Pine Tree State's Statutes. 
All of the legalese can be tricky to decipher, so we’ll put it in layman's terms. Under Maine law, it is illegal to do the following because of someone’s race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, disability, familial status, because they receive government assistance, or because they are seeking an order of protection under
Title 19-A
  • Turn down the rental or sale of a property following a bona fide offer 
  • Make, print, or publish any statement that indicates a preference for one group
  • Inquire, either aloud or in writing, about a potential tenant or purchaser’s race, color, religion, etc. 
  • Refuse to show someone a property 
  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodations for a disability 
  • Change the asking price of a home or rental property 
  • Apply different conditions on a loan, lease, or housing contract 
However, there is one
important exception
to the above: a family with children can be denied housing in a housing community specially designated for residents 55 and older. 
While most groups are well defined, the definition of order of protection under Title 19-A is a little less common. This order is a special type of court-ordered protective measure intended to provide relief to someone (and any of their children) who has been threatened, assaulted, molested, harassed, attacked, or otherwise abused by another party.  
These rules apply to anyonebanks, brokers, real estate agents, developers, landlords—involved in renting or selling real estate in Maine. If you feel as if any of your rights have been violated or that you were the victim of discrimination, contact the
Maine Human Rights Commission
right away.   

Accessibility requirements under the Fair Housing Act 

Section 4582-B
of the Maine legislature, you'll find that it is illegal to deny a person with a disability reasonable modifications or accommodations.
These specific guidelines are laid out in the national
1991 Fair Housing Act
. Although “modifications” and “accommodations” may sound interchangeable, they have different legal definitions. Let’s take a look at what each one means. 
A reasonable accommodation is something a person with a disability can request from a housing provider to grant them equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. These accommodations pertain to the rules, policies, practices, or services of a housing provider. Here are a couple of examples of typical reasonable accommodations requests: 
  • Requesting a service animal in a building that does not usually allow pets 
  • Permitting a tenant to pay rent via mail if their disability prevents them from paying directly at a rental office 
  • Designated a reserved parking spot closer to the building’s entrance for a tenant with limited mobility 
  • Allowing a tenant to transfer to a ground floor unit 
On the other hand, a reasonable modification has to do with making changes to the physical building itself. These can look like:
  • Reinforced kitchen and bathroom walls that can support grab bars 
  • Doorways wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through 
  • A dwelling must be navigable via a wheelchair 
  • Electrical outlets, light switches, and thermostats must be accessible in a wheelchair 
  • Kitchens and bathrooms must be usable by someone in a wheelchair 
If your housing provider refuses to make these changes, you’re within your rights to file a complaint under the Fair Housing Act. 

How to file a Fair Housing Complaint in Maine 

So, if you’ve concluded that your rights have been violated and you’d like to open a fair housing inquiry, here’s what you’ll need to do: 
  • Write, call, or visit the
    Maine Human Rights Commission
    within 300 days of the discrimination 
  • Fill out the intake form
    provided by the Commission 
  • After you’ve filled out the intake form, it will be reviewed by the Commission. If they decide to proceed with your case, you will receive a formal complaint of discrimination for your review. 
  • Once the Commission has issued you your formal complaint and all of the information looks good, you must get it publicly notarized 
  • Return your notarized complaint to the Commission 

State agencies vs local offices 

Navigating a fair housing complaint solo can be pretty intimidating. There’s lots of paperwork to go through and legal hoops to jump through, and it can be hard to do it without an ally in your corner. The following agencies throughout Maine provide resources for those seeking to file a fair housing complaint:
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How to save money on home and renters insurance in Maine 

When it comes to all things housing-related, knowledge is power. Knowing your civil rights can help you take the correct steps to resolve a housing discrimination dispute. And shopping for your
insurance with
can help you know if you're getting the best coverage for the lowest price.
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To ensure you always have the lowest rate, Jerry will send you new quotes every time your policy comes up for renewal, this way you're always getting the coverage you want at the best price.
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Visit the Maine Human Rights Commission at 51 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0051, give them a call at 207-624-6290, or fill out
this intake form
to report your landlord for discriminatory housing practices.
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