Gov. Janet Mills announces expansion of rent relief program, new executive order to protect renters

Gov. Janet Mills announced Thursday that her administration is expanding the rent relief program launch earlier this year amid the coronavirus outbreak.The governor said MaineHousing will double its rental assistance from $500 to $1,000 beginning Monday.Renters are available for up to three months of relief under the program. The money will be paid directly to landlords who must agree not to evict the tenant for nonpayment for the month the payment was issued.The assistance can be used to pay overdue rent.The state is using $5 million in COVID-19 funding from the federal government to expand the program.Mills also signed an executive order extending protections for renters in the eviction process. The governor said the order was issued as Maine courts plan to reopen for hearings next week.The order allows evictions scheduled before the pandemic and that are unrelated to the pandemic to move forward.It continues to protect tenants who are considered “at will,” meaning they do not have a legal agreement with their landlord, and cannot make their rent payment.The order requires landlords to provide at least 45 days notice for a tenant to leave, rather than 30 under law.It also extends an eviction notice time frame from seven to 30 days. Mills said the order also maintains strengthened penalties for landlords who may try to evict tenants by unlawful means, such as, for example, turning off utilities.

Gov. Janet Mills announced Thursday that her administration is expanding the rent relief program launch earlier this year amid the coronavirus outbreak.

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The governor said MaineHousing will double its rental assistance from $500 to $1,000 beginning Monday.

Renters are available for up to three months of relief under the program. The money will be paid directly to landlords who must agree not to evict the tenant for nonpayment for the month the payment was issued.

The assistance can be used to pay overdue rent.

The state is using $5 million in COVID-19 funding from the federal government to expand the program.

Mills also signed an executive order extending protections for renters in the eviction process. The governor said the order was issued as Maine courts plan to reopen for hearings next week.

The order allows evictions scheduled before the pandemic and that are unrelated to the pandemic to move forward.

It continues to protect tenants who are considered “at will,” meaning they do not have a legal agreement with their landlord, and cannot make their rent payment.

The order requires landlords to provide at least 45 days notice for a tenant to leave, rather than 30 under law.

It also extends an eviction notice time frame from seven to 30 days.

Mills said the order also maintains strengthened penalties for landlords who may try to evict tenants by unlawful means, such as, for example, turning off utilities.