A Tenant's Guide to Breaking a Lease in Maine Without Incurring Expenses
If you're a tenant in the Pine Tree State who is dealing with big changes, you might need help breaking a lease in Maine. You're probably worried about the fallout of breaking a rental lease, and rightly so, if you don't do it right—pitfalls such as getting saddled with legal and financial costs, credit dings, and other repercussions.
Let's take a look at your rights as a tenant, whether you have the right to break your lease, and how to get it done using both traditional routes and the easy, attorney-free way using DoNotPay.
The Importance of Honoring Rental Leases
A lease agreement is a legal document requiring both the tenant and the landlord to obligations for a set period. The tenant is required to pay certain deposit fees and monthly rent and the landlord is responsible for providing a safe, habitable rental unit. During this time, any changes to the agreement must be made in writing, and most leases in Maine include descriptions of penalties should either party violate the agreement.
Leases are beneficial for both parties, mainly because tenants can count on a set rental rate for the period of the lease and the security of having a home for the duration, and landlords don't have to worry about the financial costs of frequent turnover. If there are no penalties for breaking leases, they lose their strength.
Lease Termination Notice Requirement
Both the tenant and landlord are bound to give notice when terminating a lease before its natural expiration.
|For Written Leases||For Verbal Leases||Status|
|30 days' notice in writing||30 days' notice in writing||MRS Tit. 14 Ch. 709|
|5 M.R.S. § 4553|
|Maine Consumer Law Guide|
When Is Breaking a Lease in Maine Justified?
The first thing you should do before you break your lease is to carefully read your agreement and understand your rights and the landlord's obligations as defined within it, as they may differ from the following.
You Can Break Your Lease Without Penalty If:
- Your landlord has failed to make essential repairs, such as:
- Mold or pest mitigation
- Broken or faulty appliances or fixtures included in the unit
- Structural damage, including leaking roofs, broken pipes, or failed HVAC systems
- They fail to pay agreed costs
- Included utilities (in Maine these are typically garbage, water, and snow removal)
- Landscaping maintenance (typically for multi-unit buildings)
- They fail to enforce nuisance and safety rules equally among tenants
- Excessive noise issues that detract from reasonable enjoyment of your unit
- Tenants whose actions make the premises unsafe
- The landlord fails to make reasonable accommodations for permanent disabilities, including allowing service or assistance dogs as defined by 5 M.R.S. § 4553
- You have made a written agreement with the landlord who then has found a new tenant to occupy the unit within a reasonable time (generally within a month; you may be charged for the remaining term of the lease)
You Cannot Break a Lease Without Consequences If:
- You can no longer afford your monthly rent
- The landlord refuses to allow companion animals
- You have decided to move in with a partner at another address
- Your job required you to relocate, or you found a new job in another area
- You've added a new member to your family or household and need a larger home
- Your landlord has violated the agreement by refusing to make repairs
How to Break a Lease in Maine Without Consequences
If for any reason, you need to break a lease in the state of Maine, you have options, even if you don't have a legally acceptable reason to do so. Here's how you can avoid paying penalties, earning a bad renter's record, or even being taken to court by your landlord.
When the Landlord Fails to Uphold Their Duties
If your landlord is in the wrong, it's a good idea to give them a chance to make corrections, just as you'd expect them to do for you. The first step is to formally notify your landlord of the problem, and request that they fix the issues that are causing you to consider moving out. You can do so by writing a demand letter outlining the issues, and giving them a set timeframe in which to remedy the situation.
A demand letter would:
- Be professional yet firm.
- Address the specific issue.
- When it began
- When and how many times have you asked the landlord to fix the problem (if you already did).
- How it's affecting you and your household.
- Outline any costs, if any, you have incurred trying to fix the issue yourself.
- Refer to relevant sections of the lease agreement.
- Request that the landlord fixes the situation by a given date.
- State that you will be forced to break your lease if the deadline isn't met.
- Make clear that you would fight any penalties, including withheld deposits, in small claims court.
If the problem persists, you can then sue your landlord, either to terminate the lease or for the amount of rent that they owe you for failing to provide a safe, habitable unit.
When You Have No Justifiable Reason to Break Your Lease in Maine
If you are forced to leave for reasons of your own, and technically you are the one violating the lease, you can try and work it out with your landlord. Your best bet is to give notice to your landlord as soon as possible (at least 30 days of your intended move-out date; more if you can) and explain your situation in a formal letter.
This letter should:
- Appeal to the landlord's sense of compassion in a firm but friendly manner.
- Mention how you've enjoyed your tenancy.
- Acknowledge that you intend to break the lease.
- Explain your situation, and how it gives you no other options but to break the lease.
- Reassure the landlord that you will allow the landlord to show the unit to potential tenants (with advance notice) for the remainder of your tenancy.
- Thank them for their understanding.
In Maine, should you vacate the premises before your lease is up, you are only responsible for paying for the months the unit is vacant. In other words, once the landlord moves in as a new tenant, you do not have to pay for the remaining months of your lease. It's in your best interest to leave the unit in as good as or better condition than you left it and to work with the landlord in the days leading up to your move to get repairs and upgrades made ASAP.
Let DoNotPay Help You Legally Break Your Lease in Maine
Do you want to avoid writing letters, and worry that you won't get the outcome you deserve by going it alone? Are you worried about having to pay tenant lawyer fees if you need to take your landlord to court? DoNotPay can help you break your lease today, and back you up should you have to take your landlord to small claims court.
Here’s How You Can Get Started in 3 Easy Steps:
- Search Break My Lease on DoNotPay.
- Prepare a signed copy of your lease that you can use as a reference and enter the state the lease was signed in.
- Let us guide you through the 4 potential options.
- If you're a uniformed service member breaking a lease to fulfill your service obligations, we'll send your landlord an SCRA Protection Letter.
- If you're breaking your lease for a reason protected by your state's tenant laws, we'll write your landlord a letter detailing your protections for breaking the lease under the relevant law.
- If your reasons for breaking your lease aren't protected by federal or state law but you'd like to try to convince your landlord to let you break the lease through mutual agreement, we'll draft a hardship letter making your case to your landlord.
- If there are no remaining options for breaking the lease with protection but your state requires landlords to mitigate damages to tenants who break their leases, we'll notify your landlord of that obligation and minimize the remaining rent you have to pay.
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
DoNotPay isn't just your tenant rights advocate. We have hundreds of consumer-protection products, including these:
- Protect yourself or your business from Breach of Contract claims
- Reduce your property taxes
- Change your mailing address
- Assign power of attorney
- Cancel any subscription or membership