Commencing an Eviction in Maine
When a landlord wants to evict a tenant in Maine, the landlord is obligate to provide a certain amount of notice for the tenant to clear out. The amount of notice the landlord is required to give depends on the nature of the tenancy.
Tenancy at Will
A Tenancy at Will means that there isn't a written lease agreement between the landlord and the tenant. Typically, this is the type of situation where a tenant is paying "month-to-month" and there is no set expiration date of the tenancy. Under this situation, you as the landlord can choose to terminate the tenancy and evict that tenant for whatever reason you please (as long as that reason is not discriminatory, retaliatory, or otherwise illegal) but you must provide the tenant with 30 days of notice.
When 7 Days Notice is Permissible
Alternatively, a tenancy at-will may be terminated with only 7 days of notice in the following situations:
- The tenant or an invitee of the tenant has caused substantial damage to the property and the damage has not been prepared;
- The tenant or an invitee of the tenant caused or permitted a nuisance on the premises, has caused or allowed the premises to become unfit for habitation, or has caused or permitted a violation of the law on the premises;
- The tenant is 7 days or more behind on rent;
- The tenant has committed domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and the victim is a tenant;
- The tenant or the tenant's guest or invitee is the perpetrator of violence, a threat of violence or sexual assault against another tenant, a tenant's guest, the landlord or the landlord's employee or agent. There is an exception for this provision if the tenant is the victim; or
- The person occupying the premises is not an authorized occupant of the premises.
If a tenant is given a 7 day notice of eviction for being behind on rent, and the tenant pays the amount owed before the end of the 7 day period, then the eviction notice is voided.
Eviction with a Written Lease
In the event there is a written lease, the tenant must commit a "material breach" of the lease in order to evict. When a material breach is committed, (failure to pay rent, damage to the property, and other similar situations described above) then a tenant may be evicted with 7 days of notice.
Otherwise, a tenant may be removed from a premises after the lease is allowed to expire. In the event the lease is allowed to expire, a landlord may evict without giving notice within 7 days after the expiration.
Service of the Notice to Quit
Service of the eviction notice (notice to quit) must be at least attempted to be completed in-hand (meaning given in person) to the tenant. At least three attempts are required on three different days before service may be effectuated by posting the notice at the premises.
Forcible Entry and Detainer
Upon successful service, a complaint for "Forcible Entry and Detainer" (an eviction hearing) may be filed with the Maine District Court. The complaint for F.E.D must be served upon the tenant in the same manner as the notice to quit. Upon prevailing at an F.E.D. hearing, the District Court will issue a Writ of Possession 7 days after the judgment is entered. The Writ of Possession must then also be served upon the tenant.
Right to Appeal a Writ
When the District Court enters a judgment in favor of the landlord, a tenant may file an appeal of the decision any time before the Writ of Possession is issued.
Contact Conley & Wirick, P.A.
Outlined above are the basics of an eviction process as laid out in statute. But as with any legal proceeding, there is always the potential for complications. If you are a landlord seeking to evict a tenant, your best bet to make sure you do not run afoul of your tenant's rights is to retain competent counsel.