To provide for a safe and healthy tenancy, both the tenant and landlord should play an equal part in maintaining the premises. Maine has very explanatory laws to distribute the necessary task and responsibilities between both parties.

The landlord’s responsibilities covers two main topics: the warranty of habitability and a minimum temperature requirement. The warranty of habitability is the landlord’s promise that the premises is fit for human habitation at all times of the tenancy. The landlord should maintain the premises and make all repairs necessary to keep the premises in a condition suitable for human habitation. The minimum temperature requirement states that a minimum temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit must be capable of being kept year-round so as to keep the health of the occupants good and to prevent the building equipment and systems from freezing.

The tenant’s responsibilities are a bit more explicitly stated. Generally the tenant must not destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises or its surrounding property. More specifically, the tenant should do the following:

  • Comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of all municipal, county, and state codes, statutes, ordinances, and regulations.
  • Keep the premises clean, sanitary, and in good condition.
  • Notify the landlord immediately of any defects, maintenance issues, or dangerous conditions of which the tenant becomes aware.
  • Be responsible for cleaning and routine maintenance.
  • Dispose promptly of all rubbish, garbage, and other waste.
  • Properly use and operate any electrical, gas, and plumbing fixtures and keep them as clean and sanitary as their conditions permit.

Repairs and alterations

In general, the tenant should not make any repairs or alterations, including changing locks and a security system, without the prior written permission of the landlord and, if applicable, the homeowner’s association. If the tenant changes the locks and/or security system, he or she should provide the landlord with a key or instructions to safely disable the system within 48 hours. If the tenant fails to provide either of these items after having changed the locks, the landlord may a) in an emergency enter into the building in any way necessary and charge resulting damage to the tenant and b) terminate the tenancy with 7 days’ notice.

The tenant also has a repair and deduct remedy to protect from any negligence of the landlord regarding the warranty of habitability and minimum temperature requirement. If landlord has failed a maintenance responsibility and the tenant has given at least 14 days’ notice of this noncompliance without any response from the landlord, the tenant may do or cause to be done the work necessary to regain compliance with the same quality of materials that are being repaired. Any installation and servicing of electrical, oil burner, or plumbing equipment must be done by a licensed professional. The tenant must submit an itemized statement with the actual cost of the repairs, and then he or she may deduct that cost from the rent. Any damage to the premises caused intentionally or by the negligence of the tenant cannot be applied to this repair and deduct remedy.