This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.
This page was last updated on Aug 26th, 2022. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
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Emergency Protections during COVID
Do renters have protections against eviction during the Covid-19 emergency?
Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?
Have you received a warning notice from your landlord, like a ‘Notice to Quit’ or a ‘Notice to Leave’? Find what options you have.
Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?
Has your landlord filed an eviction lawsuit in court? Have you received a Summons and Complaint? Learn what rights and options you have.
Behind on Rent?
Find local programs that can help you with housing costs, or work out a plan with your landlord.
Maine's statewide eviction protections have expired.
Landlords may now try to sue tenants to evict them. If you are worried about an eviction, reach out as soon as possible to your local legal aid group. The lawyers may be able to help you find protections and services to deal with your eviction.
The national CDC eviction ban expired on August 26, 2021.
Earlier, Maine Governor Janet Mills had ordered that no writs of possession issued before March 18, 2020 should be served on renters to remove them from their homes. If your landlord was evicting you based on nonpayment of more than 2 months of rent, or for engaging in dangerous behavior or causing substantial property damages, they could ask for special permission to serve the writ. Renters had the right to respond to the landlord's request. This order went into effect on April 16, 2020 and expired.
Another now-expired protection was when the Governor ordered that police must protect renters from illegal evictions (if your landlord tries to remove you from your home without getting a court order).
Also expired is the Governor's order that extended the notice periods that landlords must give to tenants, before they could file an eviction case against them, if the eviction is based on nonpayment of rent related to COVID-19 income loss.
Earlier, Maine courts had temporarily suspended most eviction hearings, from March 18, 2020 through August 3, 2020.
Check here for updates on Maine's public health emergency period.
Since the emergency protections expired, then in Maine:
Yes, Maine renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
You may have been protected from eviction, but now that those protections are over, you may be sued and you still owe all your rent.
Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
Maine renters may still be sued by their landlords for eviction during the emergency, but they may have protections from new eviction hearings and from being removed from their homes by law enforcement. The courts are not hearing new non-emergency eviction cases until after August 3, 2020 at the earliest.
If you had a writ of possession issued against you before March 18, 2020, it should not be served on you. If your landlord was evicting you based on nonpayment of more than 2 months of rent, or for engaging in dangerous behavior or causing substantial property damages, they can ask for special permission to serve the writ. You have the right to respond to the landlord's request.
Landlords can begin to enforce evictions against all renters once again, 30 days after Maine's emergency period ends.
You may also have U.S. national protections against eviction that last through August 26, 2021. Check here below to see if you are eligible for them.
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
Now that the emergency period is over, your utilities might be shut off for nonpayment.
Earlier, the Maine Public Utilities Commission had issued a moratorium on utility shutoffs. Check here for updates.
Renters must still pay their utility bills, but if you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.
The emergency may delay your landlord's ability to make repairs, but if they are urgent you should call your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible.
Emergency repairs could be for problems with:
If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter or email about the need for emergency repairs (and keep a copy of this communication).
Reach out for legal help for additional guidance.
You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.
Your lease is still valid despite the emergency period.
However, you can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.
Also, you can review your lease. It may have a part that lets you end the lease early in times of financial difficulty. If your lease has this kind of part, you might be able to break the lease (in some cases penalty-free).
Find legal help to get advice for your situation.
Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.
It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must take you to court by filing an eviction lawsuit, win the case, and getting an eviction order from the court.
Legal aid groups might be able to provide you with full representation, or other legal organizations can give you information or brief advice.
Find legal help to protect your rights.
Maine courts are hearing eviction cases, though with expanded time frames.
Courts began hearing and scheduling more eviction matters after August 3, 2020.
Check regularly with your local court for more information and updates.
Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.
Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?
If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)
You do not have to leave your home yet.
In Maine, your landlord must bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons).
This official notice must follow some rules to be valid. If you have a lease, it must follow the rules in your lease. If you don’t have a lease, it must follow the rules below. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it in court.
If you don’t have a lease, these are the Maine requirements for an eviction notice:
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction.
You do not have to leave.
A conversation doesn't count as an "eviction notice". To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way.
Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.
No, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the eviction notice.
You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.
After the date on the eviction notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.
You still have time to reach out for rental assistance, and stop the eviction from moving forward.
Make sure to put on your application that you have an eviction notice and what your deadline is. They may be able to help you pay the rent you owe or work with your landlord to reduce the amount or put you on a payment plan.
Sometimes, your landlord will be required to accept the rental assistance. But, landlords are not required to accept all types of rental assistance.
In Maine, if you have a lease, you only have the right to pay the back rent if the notice or lease says you do. If you don’t have a lease, you have 7 days to pay the back rent. If you don’t pay in 7 days, you can pay the back rent, plus rent owed to date, and your landlord’s court fees to renew your tenancy. During the COVID state of emergency, you have 30 days to pay your back rent.
The notice should tell you how many days the landlord is giving you. If they are giving you less than 7 days, your landlord might not be able to evict you in court. You should point this out to the judge if you go to court.
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't giving you the required time to make your payment.
First you should make sure the court has your correct mailing address by contacting the court clerk’s office here.
Then you should also make sure you are able to appear at your court date. The date on your summons is the day your case will be heard. You should prepare to think about coming to an agreement with your landlord. You can either agree to a payment plan and to stay in your home or agree to a move out date. The shortest amount of time you will have to move after your court date is 7 days. If you can’t agree with your landlord, you should prepare to argue why your landlord should not be able to evict you.
During the COVID state of emergency, you will have three separate court dates. The first date will be over the phone. You should make sure to have a reliable phone with good reception so you can call into the court at the correct time and date. If you need more information about calling in, call the court clerk’s office.
The second COVID date will be mediation. Mediation is a meeting with you, your landlord, and a neutral person working for the court. The neutral person will try to help you come to an agreement. If you do not come to an agreement, you will have a third date where a judge will hear your case and make a decision.
If you win, the case will be dismissed. You will not be evicted. If you lose, you will have 7 days to move. At the end of the 7 days, you will be given a 48 hour “Writ of Possession.” At the end of the 48 hours, you can be removed from your home by law enforcement.
You should also make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction. In Maine, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:
You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction.
In Maine, you are not required to respond in writing to the eviction, if you want to avoid the eviction. You must show up at court. During the COVID state of emergency, this means you must call in on the right date and time to the number provided by the court. If you do not know the number, contact the court clerk’s office.
You will have an eviction hearing automatically scheduled at court. You must appear there if you want to defend yourself against the eviction. But you do not have to submit anything to the court or your landlord before this hearing.
(However, if you want a recording of the trial, which you will need if you want to appeal the case, then you should make a request in writing.)
During the COVID state of emergency, you will have three separate court dates. The first date will be over the phone. You should make sure to have a reliable phone with good reception that you can call into the court at the correct time and date. If you need more information about calling in, contact the court clerk’s office.
The second COVID date will be mediation. If you do not come to an agreement, then you will have a third date where a judge will hear your case and make a decision.
Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.
You can come to an agreement, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed.
You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home. You can also agree on a move out date. The shortest amount of time you can get after your hearing is 7 days. You should only agree on a move out date if your landlord is willing to give you more than 7 days.
Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.
Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen.
You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.
If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.
Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.
Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.
Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.
You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.
You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.
You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.
Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.
Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.
Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply.
Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.
The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information.
Find legal groups that can help you with housing problems, landlords, roommates, Section 8, domestic violence, discrimination, and more.Find Legal Services
Find groups that can help you pay the rent, cover utility costs, and get other housing-related assistance.Find Financial Help
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State information is taken from these sources:Maine Gov. executive orderGovernor's office updatesPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerPinetree Legal AssistanceMaine Judicial Branch management plan
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