Is it to evict a paying tenant after buying a duplex in Maine?

13 Replies

I am purchasing a duplex for myself to live in one unit and my adult daughter to live in the other unit.  The unit I will be in will be vacant per the contact I am currently under.  The other one has a lease that expires Jan 1, 2018.  When can I notify the tenant they have to leave and am I able to just tell them they have to leave so I can have someone else in that unit?  I am in Maine.

Sorry - Is it hard to evict a paying a tenant

It probably depends on the lease the current tenant has and what it says. You may be able to give them a 30 day notice when you purchase the property. Your real estate agent should know or know where the information is on this. It might also be worth checking with an attorney first.

Give a written notice 30 days before lease is up.  Its hard to move that time of year, so you might offer to let her out of the lease sooner.  I might have an open apartment nearby, so send me a message.

Hey Kathy, always nice to run into a fellow Mainer! Tenant law in Maine is quite simple. Here's a link to a downloadable file from the Maine lawbooks. 

www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/attach.php?id=27933&a... In section 14.15 it basically states that if the tenants have a lease, they normally get to live out the length of their lease. But if they are an at-will tenant (month or month or no lease) then the new owner of a building must give them a 90 day notice to quit. 

But if you want to hurry the process along you can certainly make them an offer to leave, often called cash-for-keys. Keep in mind that the tenant is not obligated to accept your offer. 

The section is only a few short paragraphs and I highly recommend that you read it. The entire tenant lawbook is only 25 pages and is extremely informative AND will help protect your rights as the landlord/owner while avoiding any legal issues.

Good luck!

Thank you all so much  for your responses.  This is very helpful :-)

@Matt Covert That is one of the most useful posts I’ve seen since joining BP. I’ve downloaded the .pdf and will read it soon. Thanks!

Short answer is that you can decline to renew the lease and then they will have to leave when it ends on Jan 1, but you cannot just kick them out before then.

My pleasure, John. Adding value is the game. Great to meet you!

Whoa whoa whoa....

@Matt Covert @Kathy Welch @John West

The 90 day notice to quit for tenancy-at-will termination is/was for foreclosed properties only and I'm not sure if that is even still in effect (pamphlet supplied is dated 2012...be careful).

For a purchased building a regular 30 day notice to quit a tenancy-at-will is all that's needed. If there is a lease in place you must honor the terms of said lease. Some (very few..) leases have clauses that can terminate the lease upon the sale/sales contract of a building - mine do.

If you have to honor the lease just give them advanced written notice (at least 30 days) that the lease will not be renewed and that they need to vacate the premises. READ THE LEASE, though, as who knows what else is in there for stipulations. 

The file I referenced is indeed the latest version available from the Office of the Maine AG. But you're right, I referenced the wrong line. 

So to restate: the tenant's current lease allows them to stay until their lease runs out. If there is no lease then 30 days notice is required before evicting UNLESS:

1. The tenant has caused substantial damage to the apartment;

2. The tenant has committed a “nuisance” or crime on the premises; or

3. The tenant is seven days or more behind in rent.

In these cases only 7 days notice is required.

Thanks for catching that, Ryan.

@Matt Covert @Ryan Murdock   I noticed that this document also says that landlords have to mitigate radon.  This is not the law, but it was for a short time.  I think the AG needs to update this document, especially since we have some new laws going on the books Nov. 1.  

@Amy A. @Matt Covert

I am skeptical of ANYTHING published by the AG pertaining to rental properties. It rarely favors the landlord even if the law allows it to. Take their "Model Tenant Landlord Lease" for example. (http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=AGOffice_Consumer_Law_Guide&v=article&id=27935 )

While miles ahead of the previous version they provided it's still horrible. Worse yet, the explanations provided with it are confusing and misleading.

Take this mess, for example, from the included "Guide to the Model Lease":

S. Lease Section 19: Breach

If the tenant is 14 days late with the rent, the landlord can end the lease with only 7 days’ notice for failure to pay rent. However, if the tenant pays before the 7-day period expires the lease does not end. Tenants at will (tenants without a lease) can be evicted if they are 7 days late with their rent. However, this model lease will continue to allow the tenant to be 14 days late before the lease is considered breached. Of course, if the initial lease term expires and the tenant becomes a month-to-month tenant, the landlord can terminate the tenancy if the tenant is 7 days late in paying rent. The lease can be terminated immediately and without prior warning if the tenant’s actions are dangerous to other persons or the physical structure of the building.

14 days late before ending the tenancy with their lease but only 7 days without it? Why the extra padding in favor of the tenant?? You're better off not having any lease than using this thing for any more than a 30 day term and I still wouldn't even use it for that. I feel bad for a landlord who uses this lease in good faith and signs a 1 year term. It's extremely lacking. 

All of the Maine statutes are available online ( http://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/). 

I've found the most direct way to filter through all of the statutes is to simply Google "maine statute" followed by whatever it is you are trying to research. Something like "maine statute evictions" or "maine statute security deposits".

Go right to the state website, not some third party site or the AG's "suggestions". 

It can be some dry reading but that's where you will find the most accurate information regarding landlord/tenant laws and even those are not always immediately updated to reflect the most recent changes so you still have to be careful. 

It also helps to get involved with local landlord groups (GBAOMA, MAOMA, CMAOA, etc) who help stay on top of legislative issues and lobby to keep them aligned in our favor whenever possible.

@Kathy Welch - I highly suggest you consult with legal counsel. Evicting tenants can be tricky if not done correctly. Although paying my counsel is not cheap I never do anything with evections my counsel does it all. 

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