An Act to Reduce Regulations for Residential Rental Property Owners Print

 

On June 22, 2011, Governor Paul LePage signed into law LD 1198, a bill aimed at easing regulations on landlords. The legislation provided several significant revisions to Maine’s existing landlord/tenant law, which have generally been characterized as exceedingly tenant-friendly.
Below is an itemized summary:

Eviction – Presumption of Retaliation (14 M.R.S.A. §6001, sub-§3)

  • A presumption that the landlord is retaliating against a tenant will not apply if the eviction is brought as a result of nonpayment of rent or as a result of substantial damage to the premises, unless the tenant claims that the condition of the unit is dangerous and/or materially impairs their health or safety.
  • A presumption that the landlord is retaliating will no longer exist merely because a tenant has filed a Fair Housing Complaint against the landlord in good faith. Instead, in order to raise the presumption of retaliation, a tenant must have filed the complaint prior to being served with an eviction notice, and the complaint must have a reasonable basis.


Eviction – Reasonable Accommodation (14 M.R.S.A. §6001, sub-§5)

  • If a landlord has not provided a tenant with a reasonable accommodation, an eviction will only be denied if there is a causal link between the reasonable accommodation requested and the conduct that is the subject of the eviction proceeding. If no causal link exists, the court will grant the eviction, as long as the eviction is otherwise proper.


Eviction – Appeal (14 M.R.S.A. §6008)

  • When filing an appeal in an eviction proceeding, a tenant must include an affidavit stating that they have continued to pay rent during the appeals process.


Eviction – Unclaimed Property (14 M.R.S.A. §6013)

  • This section will now apply to any property that remains in the rental unit after entry of judgment in favor of the landlord, as well as any property that is abandoned or unclaimed by the tenant after the tenant has vacated the rental unit.
  • Notice of unclaimed property / intent to dispose shall be sent by first-class mail with proof of mailing to the rental unit, if the tenant is still in possession. If the tenant has vacated the unit, the landlord shall send written notice by first-class mail with proof of mailing to the last known address of the tenant.
  • In the notice, the landlord may not limit the time in which the tenant may claim the property to less than 7 days following the mailing of the notice (as opposed to 14 days), or 48 hours after service of the writ of possession, whichever period is longer. If the tenant makes an oral or written claim for the property within that 7-day period, the landlord shall unconditionally release the property to the tenant (regardless of debts owed). If the tenant makes a timely claim, but fails to retrieve the property within the 7-day period, the landlord is required to store the unclaimed property for at least 14 days after the notice was mailed (as opposed to 24 days).
  • A landlord may properly dispose of unclaimed property only when a tenant has not timely responded to a notice (as described above), or when a tenant has failed to retrieve the unclaimed property within the 14-day storage period.
  • After or upon vacating a rental unit, a tenant may waive their rights to unclaimed property. If the waiver is oral, the landlord must confirm the waiver in writing.
  • A lease or tenancy-at-will agreement may permit a landlord to dispose of the property abandoned by a tenant without liability as long as the landlord complies with the notice provisions.


Bed Bugs – Landlord Duties (14 M.R.S.A. §6021-A)

  • A landlord is not required to pay for alternate lodging or replacing a tenant’s personal property as a result of complying with bed bug inspections or control measures. However, after disclosing the cost of compliance to the tenant, a landlord may provide financial assistance to help prepare the unit for bedbug treatment.
  • In an eviction, the presumption of retaliation by the landlord does not apply unless the tenant asserted their rights under bed bug laws prior to being served with the eviction notice.


Energy Efficiency – Disclosure (14 M.R.S.A. §6030-C)

  • A landlord has a duty to provide an energy efficiency disclosure only when a prospective tenant will be paying their own utility costs or if they specifically request an energy efficiency disclosure. As an alternative to the disclosure, a landlord may include in the application the name of each supplier of energy that previously supplied the unit and the following statement: “You have the right to obtain a 12-month history of energy consumption and the cost of that consumption from the energy supplier.”
  • A landlord no longer needs to post the energy efficiency disclosure statement at the property.
  • A landlord must retain signed energy efficiency disclosure statements for a minimum of 3 years (as opposed to 7 years).


The law is slated to take effect in September of 2011.

If you have any questions about this or any legal matter,
please don’t hesitate to contact the attorneys at Taylor, McCormack & Frame.

 
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