Who is protected under this housing law?
There are many different housing laws that involve rights of tenants and landlords. The housing law described in this section provides tenant protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking and their household members.1
If you are not a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, but have questions about your housing rights, here are some links that may be useful: for information on an anti-discrimination law called the Fair Housing Act, click here; for basic tenants’ rights with contact info for legal assistance, click here.
1 ME ST T. 14 § 6001(6)(A)
How does this housing law protect me?
The law offers various protections. First, if you are the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, you cannot be evicted from your rental unit for incidents related to this type of violence (regardless of whether or not the abuser is also a tenant or occupant of the rental unit). Even if under other circumstances, those incidents would be considered a “nuisance” (disruption to your neighbors), damage to the rental property, or a lease violation (and therefore the basis for an eviction), you are protected from being evicted.1 However, the landlord can still evict you for a valid, legal reason that is not related to the incidents of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.2
Second, if you are a victim of domestic violence and the abuser is also a tenant, the landlord can keep your security deposit to cover any damage to your rental property that is the result of an incident of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking but cannot sue you for any additional charges. However, within 30 days of the when the damage occurs, you must give the landlord written notice of the damage along with one of the required documents that proves that you are a victim, explained in What documents or proof do I need to give my landlord to get out of my lease if I am a victim?3
Third, you may be able to end your lease early due to an incident or threat of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or if your landlord sexually harasses you. To do so, you must provide your landlord with:
- one of the required documents that proves that you are a victim, explained here; and
- one of the following:
- seven days’ written notice if your lease is less than one year; or
- thirty days’ written notice if your lease is one year or more.4
1 ME ST T. 14 § 6001(6)(A)
2 ME ST T. 14 § 6001(6)(E)
3 ME ST T. 14 § 6001(6)(B)
4 ME ST T. 14 § 6001(6)(D)
If the abuser and I live together, can the landlord evict the abuser?
If you and the abuser are both tenants on the lease (or even if you are not an official tenant but the abuser is), a landlord can divide the lease in order to evict the abuser and end his/her tenancy. Note: Through the process of dividing the lease, the landlord cannot interfere with any rights you have to the property through a valid court order, and it does not necessarily mean that dividing the lease would create tenancy rights (for you or the abuser) that didn’t otherwise exist.1
In addition, even if you are not asking the landlord to let you out of the lease, the law allows the landlord to issue a 7-day notice of termination to terminate the tenancy of any tenant who is a “perpetrator of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking” when you (the victim) are also a tenant.2
1 ME ST T. 14 § 6001(6)(C)
2 ME ST T. 14 § 6002(1)(D)