Most residential leases and rental agreements in Maine require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month's rent, that's intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying. Here’s a summary of Maine landlord-tenant laws that cover the use and return of security deposits.
Does Maine law limit how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit?
Yes. Under Maine landlord-tenant law, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of two months' rent for the security deposit.
To learn more about steps that tenants can take to protect their security deposit after they've paid it, check out Nolo's article Protect Your Security Deposit When You Move In.
What about when a tenant moves out? What is the deadline in Maine for returning a security deposit?
Under Maine law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days (if under a lease or written rental agreement) or within 21 days (if it's an at-will tenancy) after the tenant has moved out.
Learn more about tenants' rights and landlords' obligations when it comes to the return of the security deposit in Nolo's chart Cleaning and Repairs a Landlord Can Deduct from a Security Deposit and Nolo's article Get Your Security Deposit Back.
Is there additional information that Maine landlords must provide to tenants when it comes to security deposits in Maine?
Yes. In addition to complying with Maine laws on security deposit limits and how (and when) the deposit must be returned to tenants, landlords in Maine must, upon request by the tenant, disclose orally or in writing the account number and the name of the institution (such as a bank) where the security deposit is being held.
Are there any exemptions to Maine security deposit law?
Yes. The entire security deposit law does not apply to a rental unit that is part of a structure with five or fewer units, one of which is occupied by the landlord.
Where can I look up Maine law on security deposits?
If you want to go right to the source and look up Maine law on security deposits -- or if you're writing a letter to your landlord or tenant and want to cite the applicable law -- the relevant statute(s) can be found at Maine Revised Statutes Annotated Title 14 §§ 6031 to 6038. Your city or county might have different landlord-tenant and security deposit laws than those at the state level in Maine. For tips on looking up Maine state and local laws, check out Nolo's State Laws & Legal Research section.
You may also find useful information on deposits in the tenant guide available at http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/attach.php?id=27933&an=1.