Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in Maine

Posted in News, Tip Of The Month | 0 comments

Find out key laws every Maine landlord and tenant needs to know. Both landlords and tenants should be able to deal with many legal questions and problems without a lawyer, once they understand the basics of state law. This overview of key landlord-tenant laws in Maine will get you started.   Required Landlord Disclosures in Maine Under Maine law, landlords must disclose specific information to tenants (usually in the lease or rental agreement), such as the results of a mandatory test for radon and bedbug problems. For a full list, see Maine Required Landlord Disclosures.   Maine Security Deposit Limit and Return Maine state law limits how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit (two months’ rent), when it must be returned (within 30 days after a tenant moves if under a lease or written rental agreement or within 21 days if it is an at-will tenancy), and sets other restrictions on deposits. See Maine Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines for more on the subject.   Small Claims Lawsuits in Maine Tenants can sue landlords in small claims court for the return of their deposit, up to a dollar amount of $6,000. See Filing a Security Deposit Lawsuit in Maine Small Claims Court for advice for tenants filing suit. Landlords defending a security deposit lawsuit should check out Maine Landlord’s Guide to Security Deposit Disputes in Small Claims Court.   Maine Late Fees and Other Rent Rules State law regulates several rent-related issues, including late fees, the amount of notice (at least 45 days in Maine) landlords must give tenants to raise the rent, and how much time (seven days in Maine) a tenant has to pay rent or move before a landlord can file for eviction. For details, see Maine Late Fees, Termination for Nonpayment of Rent, and Other Rent Rules.   Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent in Maine Tenants may withhold rent or exercise the right to “repair and deduct” if a landlord fails to take care of important repairs, such as a broken heater. For specifics, see Maine Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent or “Repair and Deduct”.   Maine Termination and Eviction Rules State laws specify when and how a landlord may terminate a tenancy. For example, a landlord may give a Maine tenant at will who has caused substantial damage to the premises an unconditional quit notice that gives the tenant seven days to move out before the landlord can file for eviction. See State Laws on Unconditional Quit Terminations and State Laws on Termination for Violation of Lease for details on these types of termination notices in Maine.   Landlord Access to Rental Property, Tenant Protection Against Retaliation, and Other State Laws in Maine Several other landlord-tenant laws in Maine affect both property owners...

Read More

The Science of Car Crashes

Posted in News, Tip Of The Month | 0 comments

From lane departure warnings to automatic emergency braking, drivers today have more technology than ever to help avoid car accidents. But with more cars on the road, the number of traffic fatalities continues to rise, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Taking a scientific approach to what causes car accidents can help us better understand – and potentially avoid – them in the future. Why Are There More Fatal Car Accidents? Americans are covering more miles, and are more distracted, than they were a decade ago. Safety technology can only do so much to offset risky driving behavior. Reducing distractions, from smartphone use to eating while driving, can help drivers remain alert and able to react quickly, giving them a better chance to avoid an accident. What Role Do Drivers Play in an Accident? Despite all of the new safety technology, in 94 percent of car accidents, the crash was related to the driver, according to NHTSA.1 Often, an unexpected event and period of inattention go hand in hand. Maintaining focus on the roadway is important because unexpected events are a part of everyday driving. Even at their most efficient, the interactions between a driver’s perception and a vehicle’s brakes aren’t instantaneous. Responding to an unexpected event happens in three distinct phases: perception, reaction and avoidance. There’s the moment that the driver perceives the potential hazard, the driver’s reaction time and the steps the driver takes to avoid an accident. This sequence of events takes time. Maintaining focus and attention on the road can help provide a driver with the time needed to react and ideally, avoid an accident. What Causes a Car Accident? To a driver, getting into an accident may feel like a stroke of bad luck – a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, perhaps. There’s some truth to the idea of timing. It’s generally safer to drive during daylight hours instead of nighttime, when visibility is lower and other drivers are likely to be fatigued, or perhaps driving under the influence, for example. While there’s an element of chance in an accident, often it’s due to a series of connected events that can be deciphered to discover the root cause of the crash. It can mean that a small mistake, when compounded with another factor, can lead to a serious car accident. But safe drivers who are prepared to react to that root cause can help prevent a more serious accident than drivers who are not prepared. Safe driving is more than simply driving the speed limit; it’s about anticipating other driver’s actions and recognizing when a curve in the road ahead or inclement weather requires drivers to slow down....

Read More

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Posted in News, Tip Of The Month | 0 comments

When the chill starts creeping in through the windows and doors, it’s time to get ready for the big freeze. We’ve put together a quick and easy checklist, so you can prepare your home for the cold with confidence.    Inside the Home Indoor preparations focus on two major components: efficiency and warmth. You want to keep as much heat inside the home as you can to use energy more efficiently, which means taking care of leaks and insulation problems. You also want to have the fireplace, heater, wood stove and ventilation system ready to go. Here’s a list to help you get it all done. Fill in cracks around window frames and door frames with caulk. Bob Vila, well-known home improvement guru and host of This Old House, says that this is one of the cheapest and most significant ways you can cut heating costs in winter. Check insulation in attics, garages and basements. If you have a bug or animal problem, you may need to tear out and replace old or chewed up insulation. Make sure any exposed pipes in the attic, basement and garage are properly insulated. Get a check-up for your heating and ventilation system to make sure it’s running as cleanly and efficiently as possible. This can save you a lot of money on utilities. Have a chimney sweep inspect the flue and clean the chimney before starting a fire. There may be bird nests or animals blocking the opening, or a highly flammable buildup of creosote. Either of these can start a chimney fire. Check for cracks and openings in your wood stove. Get a professional to replace compromised glass or crooked vent covers. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Install a carbon monoxide detector, if you have not done so already. Change the batteries on your existing detectors. The winter months are prime time for carbon monoxide accidents. Have a licensed technician inspect your fire sprinkler system, and ensure it is ready for cold weather. Outside the Home To prepare the exterior of the home, you need to focus on protecting it from the elements, especially if you live in a snowy climate. It’s also a good time to start prepping your yard for next spring. Clean out the gutters, spouts and drains around your home. Usually there is a thick accumulation of leaves after fall, and this can cause trouble when you need your roof to shed snow and water quickly. Fill in any cracks in your foundation or driveway with caulk or a patch, to keep moisture out. Inspect the roof for cracks, loose tiles, or other signs of weakness. Get all repairs finished now, before the snow or...

Read More

Introducing our New Director of Personal Lines

Posted in News | 0 comments

Insurance Trust and Equinox are excited to announce the addition of a new employee to our team. Sharon Little has been hired for the position of Director of Personal Lines. Sharon brings more than 35 years of insurance experience to the position.  In previous employment, she held roles from claims to P&C agent, Life agent and management.  Sharon was born and raised in Greater Portland, attended Falmouth High School and Andover College.  Sharon enjoys spending time with her husband and two grown children as well as gardening, reading, being outdoors and traveling. “I am pleased to be working with the Equinox division of Insurance Trust and am thrilled to see how my background seems to have led me to my position here with the credit union family.  I look forward to working with credit union members, providing great insurance products and service to enhance their credit union experience.  I believe in local, friendly customer service and educating the public on why they are buying insurance so that paying the bill is a better experience.” As Director of Personal Lines, Sharon will be responsible for proving sales and service for Personal Lines Insurance and will maintain knowledge of our products, client data and reporting within our agency management system. Sharon will collaborate with our Marketing Director to assist with marketing efforts and will work alongside management to provide financial oversight for the Personal Lines...

Read More

Auto leasing vs. buying: What’s best for you?

Posted in News, Tip Of The Month | 0 comments

If you are in the market for a new set of wheels, you’re probably wondering if you should lease or buy. Though 80 percent of Americans financed their cars at a dealership in 2016, leases hit an all-time high of 4.3 million that same year, according to the “Lease Market Report” from edmunds.com.   What’s right for you? There are pros and cons to leasing and buying a car, but deciding what works best for you depends on your needs and more importantly, your finances. First, consider your budget, calculating how much car you can afford, including a down payment and monthly costs. Next, factor in your primary use for the car, be it commuting, weekend cruising, or both. Finally, start the comparison process.   A closer look at leasing. More car for “less”? Here are four things to keep in mind about leasing: Cost: The average new car loan came in at more than $30,000, according to a 2017 auto market finance study from Experian. Leases typically have lower upfront costs, as well as lower monthly payments, making it more attractive to some buyers. On the flip side, when you lease, you have a permanent car payment and when the lease ends, will have nothing to show for it—no car to drive, trade in, or sell. Choice and maintenance: With leasing, you can drive a new or almost-new car without a long-term commitment. In addition, repairs will likely be rare or non-existent and maintenance will be mostly oil changes, tires, and brakes. Finally, if you want to keep up with the technology, leasing could be a good option since you can upgrade when the lease ends. Mileage: Even the most affordable leasing deals can severely limit how much you can drive. The typical mileage limit is 12,000 per year, though some lenders will let you go up to 100,000 miles, says Edmunds. However, if you pick a lower-mileage lease and go over your limit, you’ll pay a surcharge for additional miles, around 10 cents to 25 cents per mile. With nearly 25 percent of U.S. workers commuting more than 42 miles per day, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, extra mileage costs can quickly add up, making leasing far less of a bargain. Depreciation: While you’ll pay less sales tax with a purchase, leases are more expensive over time, partly because you’re always making a car payment. Another cost factor is depreciation. Once you drive a new car off the dealer lot, its status goes to “used” instantly, and so does its value. Translation: you pay for that decrease with each new lease. While new-car buyers also take the initial depreciation hit, driving the car for more years lessens the total cost. The...

Read More

Maine Continues to Rank Among Most Affordable States for Personal Auto and Homeowners Insurance

Posted in News, Tip Of The Month | 0 comments

February 8, 2018 – Maine Government News | Maine.gov Professional & Financial Regulation – Insurance    “Thanks to a competitive market, Maine consumers are paying less for auto and home insurance than consumers in nearly every other state,” Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa stated. For the fifth consecutive year, Maine ranked 3rd nationally for lowest average auto insurance premiums, and for the third year in a row the state ranked 10th nationally for lowest average homeowners premiums, according to recently released reports by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Maine continues to have the lowest average homeowners premiums in New England. The NAIC’s Auto Insurance Database Report provides the average costs associated with personal automobile insurance and includes state-by-state auto insurance data and analysis for insurance regulators, consumers and lawmakers. The types of auto insurance coverage included in the report are bodily injury and property damage liability, uninsured and underinsured motorist, medical payment, collision, and comprehensive. The NAIC’s Homeowners Insurance Report provides data on market distribution and average cost by policy form and amount of insurance. Data is collected from insurance statistical agents or reported directly to the NAIC and includes national and state-specific premium and exposure information for homeowners policies, as well as non-commercial dwelling fire insurance policies. “Maine has coverage requirements that exceed those in most other states, yet Maine continues to have consistently low average auto premiums,” Superintendent Cioppa said. According to the Insurance Research Council, Maine also now has the lowest percentage of uninsured motorists, at 4.5% (followed by New York at 6.1% and Massachusetts at 6.2%). More information is available from the NAIC (www.naic.org). Maine consumers and business owners with questions about auto, home, business or other lines of insurance are encouraged to visit the Bureau of Insurance website at maine.gov/insurance or call 800-300-5000, or email Insurance.PFR@maine.gov. The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound business practices through oversight of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous occupations....

Read More