A Maine eviction notice informs a tenant that an eviction lawsuit may be filed against them if they don’t comply with the landlord’s terms as relayed within the notice to quit. In most cases, the landlord will use a notice to quit to inform the tenant that they must correct a lease violation or deliver unpaid rent, providing them with seven (7) days in which to do so (though the notice period may vary depending on the terms of the lease).
An eviction notice may also be used to terminate a month-to-month rental agreement (a.k.a. tenancy at-will). In this case, the terminating party must provide the other with thirty (30) days’ advance notice. If the tenant fails to vacate the rental unit or satisfy the landlord’s demands within the notice period provided, the landlord may attempt to evict them by filing a forcible entry and detainer lawsuit with the district court.
7-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment – This notice can be used when a tenant fails to pay rent for seven (7) days after it is due. After receiving the notice, the tenant will have an additional seven (7) days to pay rent or vacate.
7-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance – Informs a tenant that they have breached their rental terms and that they have seven (7) days to remedy the breach or vacate (the tenant is not entitled to retain their tenancy by correcting the breach).
30-Day Notice to Terminate Month-to-Month Lease – Used to terminate a month-to-month tenancy by providing thirty (30) days’ advance notice.
- Grace Period (§ 6028(1)): Fifteen (15) Days
- Non-Payment of Rent (§ 6002(1)(C)): *Seven (7) Days
- Non-Compliance (§ 6002(1)(A),(B),(D),(E),(F)): *Seven (7) Days
- Periodic Tenancy Termination (§ 6002): Thirty (30) Days
*Notice periods are applicable to at-will tenancies (rental agreements without a lease). If there is a written lease, the same notice periods shall only apply if the lease does not contain language indicating a different notice period.
Evicting a tenant in Maine is accomplished through a legal action known as a “forcible entry and detainer.” Landlords may initiate this process when a tenant remains on the premises after receiving proper notice to vacate. However, before filing for eviction, the landlord must have legal grounds to terminate the tenancy. In Maine, a tenant may be evicted if they fail to pay rent, fail to vacate after their lease expires, or if they violate their rental terms or Maine landlord-tenant law.
Step 1 – Draft a Notice to Quit
Landlords can begin by drafting an eviction notice (a.k.a. notice to quit) to be served on the tenant. The type of notice given to the tenant will vary depending on the nature of the eviction. From the following options, the landlord must select the eviction notice that corresponds with the reason for eviction:
- 7-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment
- 7-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance
- 30-Day Notice to Terminate Month-to-Month Lease
Step 2 – Deliver Notice to Tenant
After the notice to quit has been prepared, the landlord must make three (3) good faith efforts to hand-deliver the document to the tenant. If the tenant cannot be found after three (3) attempts at delivery, the landlord must instead send a copy by first-class mail to the tenant’s last known address, and a copy must be left at the tenant’s usual place of residence.
Note: If the tenancy is at-will and the eviction is for the non-payment of rent, the landlord must wait until rent is seven (7) days late before serving the eviction notice on the tenant. The same seven (7) day grace period shall apply if the written lease between the parties does not include any provision defining the date on which such a notice may be served.
Step 3 – Wait for Notice Period to Expire
Landlords must wait until the notice expires before terminating the individual’s tenancy and filing for eviction. If it is an at-will tenancy, or if the written lease does not address notice periods for eviction, a seven (7) day notice period will be given when the tenant fails to pay rent or is non-compliant with their rental agreement or Maine landlord-tenant law. However, if there is a written lease that contains a different notice period, the landlord must adhere to the lease terms when determining the proper notice period. Furthermore, a tenancy at-will may be terminated at any point without reason by providing thirty (30) days’ written notice to the tenant.
Step 4 – Complete an Eviction Complaint
If the tenant doesn’t comply with the eviction notice within the designated notice period, the landlord can proceed by drafting a Complaint for Forcible Entry and Detainer (CV-007). Once the Complaint is prepared, the landlord should make a copy for their personal records.
Step 5 – Obtain Eviction Summons
After filling out the Complaint, the landlord must obtain a Forcible Entry and Detainer Summons (CV-034) for each tenant being evicted. This document can be purchased from a clerk of the district court for a $5 fee. The landlord must then ask the clerk to schedule a hearing date.
Step 6 – Serve Summons on Tenant
The landlord must arrange to have the sheriff’s department serve the tenant with a copy of the Complaint and the original Summons forms (a service fee will be required for each tenant being served). These documents must be served at least seven (7) days before the eviction hearing. After the tenant is served, the sheriff’s department will provide the landlord with proof of service. If the sheriff’s department is unable to serve the tenant after three (3) attempts at delivery, the landlord must mail the documents by first-class mail to the tenant’s last known address and leave a copy of the documents at the tenant’s usual place of residence. The landlord must provide evidence of their delivery by filing an Affidavit of Service (CV-204).
Step 7 – Tenant’s Response
If the tenant disagrees with the allegations made against them by the landlord, they can file an Answer which allows them to state the reasons why the eviction is unlawful. The original Answer must be filed with the court and a copy must be sent by mail to the landlord.
Step 8 – Return to the Court
With the eviction documents successfully served on the tenant, the landlord must return to the court at least one (1) business day before the eviction hearing to file the original Complaint, the original Summons forms, and the proof of service. A $100 filing fee will be required at this time.
Step 9 – Attend Hearing
Both parties will need to attend the court hearing to defend their cases. Should the tenant fail to appear, a default judgment may be made in the landlord’s favor. The court will review the evidence presented by both parties before issuing a judgment. If the landlord prevails in court, the tenant will be ordered to vacate the premises within a specific number of days. The tenant may then file a Notice of Appeal and Affidavit (CV-206) should they oppose the court’s decision.
Step 10 – Remove Tenant
If the tenant neither vacates the property nor appeals to the court’s decision before the move-out date, the landlord must file a Request for Issuance of Writ of Possession (CV-195). This document is used to petition the court for a writ that authorizes the sheriff’s department to remove the tenant from the property.
- Affidavit of Service (CV-204)
- Signing: Landlord and Clerk or Notary Public
- Answer, Affirmative Defenses and Request for Electronic Sound Recording
- Signing: Tenant
- Complaint for Forcible Entry and Detainer (CV-007)
- Fee: $100
- Signing: Landlord
- Forcible Entry and Detainer Summons (CV-034)
- Fee: $5
- Signing: N/A
- Notice of Appeal and Affidavit (CV-206)
- Signing: Tenant and Clerk or Notary Public