December 22, 2020

New Eviction Restrictions for Portland, Maine

On November 3, 2020, voters in Portland approved an amendment to the Code of Ordinances which will implement rent control and tenant protections.  The new Sec. 6-236 of the Code of Ordinances extends the notice period for termination of certain tenancies, and sets forth a lump-sum reimbursement amount where the landlord wishes to terminate a tenancy with limited notice.      

Section 6-236 extends the notice period that must be given to tenants prior to eviction.  Specifically, to terminate an at-will tenancy, tenants must be given 90 days’ notice.  The 90-day notice for termination of at-will tenancy significantly increases the notice period under Maine statute (30-days) and may come as a surprise to many landlords. 

Section 6-236 does not change the notice period of “for cause” terminations.  Subject to the governor’s executive order (see discussion below), for non-payment of rent or other “for cause” reasons under 14 M.R.S.§ 6002(1), tenants must be given 7 days’ notice to terminate the tenancy. 

Section 6-236 does allow a landlord to shorten the notice period for termination of an at-will tenancy by making payment to the tenant.  A landlord may terminate an at-will tenancy with 60 to 89 days’ notice by providing $500 reimbursement to the tenant.  Similarly, a landlord may terminate an at-will tenancy with 30 to 59 days’ notice by providing $1000 reimbursement to the tenant.  These reimbursement payments are to be paid to the tenant in a single installment for the benefit of all tenants of the unit.  If there are multiple tenants, it is the tenants’ responsibility to allocate the payment among themselves.

Holdover tenancies are exempt from the 90-day notice period.  Holdover tenancies are created when a tenant remains on the property after their lease has ended. 

Short-term rentals (rentals of fewer than 30 days) are exempt from the 90-day notice period.  Also exempt from the statute are landlord-occupied buildings with four or less rental units, units owned and operated by municipal housing authorities, and accessory dwelling units. See Section 6-231. 

The notice periods for termination of tenancy under 14 M.R.S. § 6002 are currently extended state-wide by executive order.  On July 30, 2020, Governor Janet T. Mills signed an executive order extending the notice periods that must be given to tenants under the Maine eviction statute, 14 M.R.S. § 6002. Specifically, for non-payment of rent, tenants must be given 30 days’ notice to terminate the tenancy.  To terminate an at-will tenancy, tenants must be given 45 days’ notice.

As a result of these changes and as long as the executive order is in effect, in Portland the notice period to terminate a tenancy for non-payment is 30 days and the notice period to terminate an at-will tenancy without providing a reimbursement payment is 90 days.

Bodie Colwell is an attorney with Preti Flaherty’s Creditors’ Rights & Bankruptcy practice group. Bodie helps lenders and businesses recover money owed to them and represents businesses in financial distress both in and out of court.

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