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Legal Information: Maine

Maine Housing Laws

Housing Laws

Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking may be protected from eviction due to incidents within their rental unit, able to terminate their lease without penalty, and may not be liable for costs to repair damages done by an abuser beyond the amount of the security deposit.

Basic info

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:

  1. one of the required documents that proves that you are a victim, explained here; and
  2. 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?

Yes. 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)

Breaking a lease/moving out

What documents or proof do I need to give my landlord to get out of my lease if I am a victim?

If you are the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and wish to end your lease, you must provide specific notice and documents to your landlord. If your lease is for a period of time of less than a year, you must provide seven days’ written notice. If your lease is for a period of a year or more, you must provide your landlord with thirty days’ written notice. In addition, you must provide one of the following forms of documentation:1

  • a statement signed by a Maine-based sexual assault counselor or victim witness advocate;
  • a statement signed by a health care provider, mental health care provider, or law enforcement officer; (Note: If the provider or officer is licensed, s/he must include his/her license number on the statement);
  • a copy of a protection from abuse complaint, temporary order, or final order of protection;
  • a copy of a protection from harassment complaint, temporary order or final order of protection from harassment;
  • a copy of a police report taken in response to an incident of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; or
  • a copy of a criminal complaint, indictment or conviction for a domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking charge.2

1 ME ST T. 14 § 6001(D)
2 ME ST T. 14 § 6001(H)

Once I notify my landlord that I want to end my lease, do I still have to pay rent?

If you end your lease because of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, you are not liable for any rent after the date on which the 7-day or 30-day notice expires or after the date that you actually leave the rental unit, whichever is later. However, if you have already prepaid your rent, the landlord is not obligated to return that money to you.1

1 ME ST T. 14 § 6002(4)

What will happen to my security deposit if I terminate my lease early? Can the landlord keep it?

The landlord cannot keep your security deposit as some sort of penalty for breaking the lease.  However, if your rental unit is damaged due to domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault, the landlord has the right to keep your security deposit to cover the damages.  Note: If the rental unit was damaged as the result of an incident of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and you provide written notice of the damage and the proper documents proving that you are a victim within 30 days of the incident, you cannot be charged any additional money for the damage.1  See What documents or proof do I need to give my landlord to get out of my lease if I am a victim? to read more about acceptable forms of documentation.

1 ME ST T. 14 § 6001(6)(B)