Maine Tenant Screening
Last Updated: January 28, 2015
Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost portion of New England. It is known for its scenery, its jagged, mostly rocky coastline, its low, rolling mountains, its heavily forested interior, and picturesque waterways as well as for its seafood cuisine, especially lobster and clams.
How to Screen a Tenant in the State of Maine
DISCLAIMER: We do our best to keep this information accurate and up-to-date, but we cannot guarantee either. The most recent law changes may not be reflected here. We do not intend this information to be legal advice, nor are we qualified to advise you regarding legal matters. We highly recommend consulting a lawyer qualified to discuss landlord-tenant law to advise you. We do not specifically endorse any of the websites linked from these pages, nor are we in any way affiliated with the agencies or individuals who have published them. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of information posted on these sites. If you find a problem on this page, please contact us so that we can get it fixed.
Step 1: Know Your Rights & Responsibilities
Landlords and property managers are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF] (FCRA) during the tenant screening process. Additionally, Maine has laws that affect the tenant screening process. You can find the current Maine Housing Codes on the Maine State Legislature website. If you are finding the formalities of the state code daunting, you might want to check out these friendlier sites:
Recent Law Changes
In 2011, the Maine legislature enacted a number of notable changes to residential landlord/tenant law. These changes include: At-will leases without termination or notice language may still be terminated by following statutory requirements, smoking policy for the premises must be disclosed in the lease, and others outlined at this link. Maine Residential Landlord/Tenant Law Changes
Step 2: Required Forms & Disclosures
Tip: before you rent for the first time, consider hiring a lawyer to review all of the documents you will use during the application and rental process to ensure that you are protected to the fullest extent of the law.
- Rental Application [PDF] (this must be completed in full by the applicant prior to screening)
- Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF]
- Consumer Report Disclosure [PDF]
If you are ACCEPTING an applicant:
- Move-In Checklist [PDF]
- Lease Agreement (written), containing or attaching the following information:
- Owner/Agent Identity – this should include name and address, and if the owner/agent is out-of-state it must include contact information for a resident of the COUNTY in which the rental is located that can act as an agent for the purposes of serving notices and process.
- Security Deposit – this must include the amount of the deposit and the conditions under which some or all of the deposit may be withheld. It must also include the name and banking institution holding the deposit.
- Non-refundable Fees – explicitly describe any non-refundable fees, and state clearly that they are non-refundable.
- Fire Protection & Safety Information: You must disclose the available fire protection and safety information specific to the unit you are renting, including smoking policy, evacuation plans, and who to notify in case of emergency.
- Utilities: In Maine, no landlord may lease or offer to lease a dwelling unit in a multiunit residential building where the expense of furnishing electricity to the common areas or other area not within the unit is the sole responsibility of the tenant in that unit, unless both parties to the lease have agreed in writing that the tenant will pay for such costs in return for a stated reduction in rent or other specified fair consideration that approximates the actual cost of electricity to the common areas. (14 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. 6024)
- Energy Efficiency: Maine landlords must provide to potential tenants a residential energy efficiency disclosure statement in accordance with Title 35-A, section 10006, subsection 1, that includes, but is not limited to, information about the energy efficiency of the property. Before a tenant or lessee enters into a contract or pays a deposit to rent a property, the landlord must provide the statement to the tenant, obtain the tenant’s signature on the statement, and sign the statement. The landlord must retain the signed statement for at least 7 years. (14 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. 6030-C)
- Radon: By 2012 and every ten years thereafter, Maine landlords must test for radon and disclose to prospective and existing tenants the date and results of the test and the risks of of radon, using a disclosure form prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services (tenant must sign acknowledgment of receipt). (14 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. 6030-D)
- Bedbug Information: Before renting a dwelling unit, Maine landlords must disclose to a prospective tenant if an adjacent unit or units are currently infested with or are being treated for bedbugs. Upon request from a tenant or prospective tenant, landlord must disclose the last date that the dwelling unit the landlord seeks to rent or an adjacent unit or units were inspected for a bedbug infestation and found to be free of a bedbug infestation. (14 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. 6021-A)
- Smoking Policy: Maine landlords must give the tenant written disclosure stating whether smoking is prohibited on the premises, allowed on the entire premises, or allowed in limited areas of the premises. If the landlord allows smoking in limited areas on the premises, the notice must identify the areas on the premises where smoking is allowed. Disclosure must be in the lease or separate written notice, landlord must disclose before tenant signs a lease or pays a deposit, and must obtain a written acknowledgment of notification from the tenant. (14 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. 6030-E)
- Security Deposit: Upon request by the tenant, Maine landlords must disclose orally or in writing the account number and the name of the institution where the security deposit is being held. (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, 6031 to 6038)
If you are DECLINING an applicant:
- Adverse Action Notice [PDF]
Step 3: Order a Tenant Screening Report
What You’ll Need
- A completed rental application signed by the applicant.
- Some details about your applicant:
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Previous address
- Bank account number (optional)
- Bank routing number (optional)
What Will Be Covered
- Package Options
- Background Report Coverage for Maine:
- Criminal, OFAC/Patriot Act & Sex Offender Records – A nationwide search is always performed. These jurisdictions specifically are available in Maine: ME Department Of Corrections, ME Sex Offender Registry.
- Eviction Records – records are available from the following counties: Androscoggin, Aroostook, Cumberland, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Sagadahoc, Somerset, Waldo, Washington, York.
- Bankruptcies, Liens & Judgments – records are available from the following counties: Androscoggin, Aroostook, Cumberland, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Sagadahoc, Somerset, Waldo, Washington, York
- Social Security Number validation, Death Index, credit checks, previous addresses, alias names, and the Rent Check Advisor include all information available regardless of location.
Resources for Maine Landlords
- Maine State Bar Association Lawyer Referral
- Maine Courts Directory
- Law Enforcement Agencies in Maine (Wikipedia)