COVID-19 Information for Maine
The purpose of this page is to provide apartment industry professionals with an overview of the issues affecting our industry with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. The page is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute, and should not be construed as legal advice. This resource is not intended to provide a mandatory standard of care for the industry.
State and Local Affiliates
Please remember to use your state or local apartment association as the primary resource for the most up-to-date information on your responsibilities. Find your local affiliate.
State Legal and Regulatory Information
We highly suggest you contact a local attorney before you decide to initiate an eviction action against a resident in the current environment as overlaying federal, state and county laws or restrictions on the judicial process may apply. This includes: issuing a notice to vacate, initiating any eviction-related action, or assessing fees or penalties on residents for nonpayment of rent or other lease violations. In addition to the below, you can access NAA's statutory information on late fees, eviction laws, and other policy issues.
Maine is currently in Phase 3 of its reopening strategy with plans to transition to Phase 4 on October 13. Under Phase 4, all non-essential businesses may resume operation per safety and health modifications.
Face Mask Mandate
Governor Mills issued an executive order requiring that the wearing of face coverings be adopted statewide.
Status: Evictions Can Resume (In Person)
- Action: On April 16, 2020, Governor Mills issued an executive order implementing an eviction moratorium through August 3, 2020.
- Scope: The order specifically suspends the issuance of a writ of possession. The suspension includes exceptions for cases where residents:
- Posed an imminent risk of harm by threatening or assaulting behavior towards property management staff, another resident, neighbor, or other person;
- Posed an imminent risk of harm to the property itself, or the property of another resident, neighbor, or other person;
- Violated health, sanitation, fire, housing or safety laws;
- Engaged in an illegal or prohibited trade or activity on the property;
- Posed a significant nuisance to property management, another resident, or a neighbor; or
- Caused substantial unrepaired damage to the premises.
- Section C extends notice periods for lease violations to 60-days from 30-days and notice periods for nonpayment of rent from 7-days to 30-days.
- COVID-19 Related Financial Impact Requirement: No.
- Residents Responsible for Rent: Yes.
Maine's Judicial Branch ordered that effective on March 18 through May 30, 2020, all evictions and foreclosures are suspended; previously scheduled cases will not be heard, and new cases will not be scheduled for a hearing until May 1, 2020.
Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance
The MaineHousing COVID-19 Rent Relief Program is for renters who cannot afford to pay their rent due to circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic. The program is designed to provide a one-time payment of up to $500, until the federal relief funds get to the individuals who need them.
The applicant is the renter and the benefit is paid to the landlord. If the landlord agrees to participate in the program, the landlord is postponing the balance of the payment, not forgiving it. In addition, the landlord is agreeing not to evict the renter for non-payment of rent during the month in which the rental relief payment is made.
An applicant may qualify if the applicant is unable to pay rent due to circumstances related to the coronavirus. Examples include being laid off, having the place of employment closed, reduced hours of work, having to stay home to care for children because of the closure of a day care or school, or other loss of income due to the pandemic.
An applicant may qualify if the applicant pays market rent and the applicant’s current monthly income is less than:
- $3,696 for an individual
- $4,833 for a two-person household
- $5,971 for a three-person household
- $7,108 for a four or more-person household
If an applicant can afford to pay rent from income of any sort or from savings or other liquid assets, the applicant is not eligible for this program.
If an applicant lives in housing that receives any kind of subsidy, the applicant is not eligible. Examples of this include:
- Receives a Section 8 Voucher, lives in a Section 8 apartment or receives Rental Assistance from USDA’s Rural Development;
- Lives in a housing development with a mortgage financed by MaineHousing or a federal agency;
- Lives in a development/property using low-income housing tax credits;
- Lives in public housing.
No rent freeze is in effect at the state or local level. There is no statute preempting local rent regulation.
Under Maine Code, § 1105, it is unlawful to sell necessities at an unconscionable price during a period of abnormal market disruption declared by the governor. Unconscionable price is defined as 15 percent plus costs more than the pre-declaration price. If the seller did not sell the goods or services prior to the declaration, prices cannot exceed 15 percent plus costs as the same goods sold by others.
Local Legal and Regulatory Information
Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance
The City of Portland is partnering with The Opportunity Alliance to help renters in Portland that have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The City of Portland CARES: Emergency Income Payment Program provides up to $1,000 of rental assistance for a maximum of 3 months, and up to $250 in utility assistance. The program is funded with supplemental CDBG funding made available through the federal CARES Act. As a result of new guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the City of Portland has streamlined the application process for the Rental Assistance Program.
The City of Portland's program is separate from rental assistance programs being offered through the State of Maine/MaineHousing and Cumberland County. Because the programs are funded through the same U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Program, Federal rules prohibit residents of Portland from accessing funding through the state and county programs. Opportunity Alliance administers all three programs.
For more information on the Portland CARES: Emergency Income Payment Program, including eligibility requirements click here: Portland CARES Emergency Assistance Payment Program Guidelines.