State Laws Addressing Radon, Mold and Secondhand Smoke
Maine has enacted legislation addressing radon hazards in rental properties as part of the state's landlord-tenant law. Maine Revised Statutes (MRS), title 14, §6030-D . The law advances radon awareness by requiring landlords to test for radon and disclose the results to tenants, and by allowing tenants to terminate the tenancy if elevated radon levels are identified. However, one provision of the law that could potentially undermine these goals is the authority for landlords to terminate a tenancy if elevated radon levels are identified. The law requires the state Department of Health and Human Services to adopt rules to administer the law.
Duty to test. Under the law, landlords must have their properties tested for radon by March 1, 2014. Landlords must test every 10 years thereafter if requested by a tenant.
A landlord may conduct the radon test him/herself in certain circumstances and certain types of buildings, as outlined in the law. Otherwise, the law requires that the testing be conducted by a radon professional registered with the state pursuant to the state's radon registration law. 14 MRS §6030-D(1),(5); 22 MRS §771-784.
Notice of testing. Landlords must provide tenants and potential tenants with written notice regarding the presence of radon in the building, including the date and results of the most recent test, along with information about the risks of radon exposure. This requirement includes disclosure of test results provided by tenants in certain circumstances. The law also requires reporting of test results to the state health department. The law directs the state health department to develop a disclosure form for this purpose. 14 MRS §6030-D(2),(6),(7).
The state's radon registration law additionally requires that registered professionals report to the state health department the addresses of all structures that are tested or mitigated for radon, as well as the testing results. 22MRS §778.
Termination of tenancy. The law allows both tenants and landlords to terminate a lease or tenancy at will if testing reveals radon levels at or above 4.0 pCi/L. Allowing a landlord to terminate a tenancy due to high radon levels in the property can potentially undermine the goal of reducing exposure to radon gas.
Enforcement/Penalties. A person who violates these radon testing and mitigation requirements commits a civil violation and may be assessed a fine of up to $250 per violation. The law establishes as a breach of the implied warranty of fitness the failure of a landlord to provide the required notice or the falsification of test results. 14 MRS §6030-D(4).
Other portions of the state landlord-tenant law provide that if a condition exists in a dwelling unit which renders the dwelling unit unfit for human habitation, the tenant may file a complaint in court against the landlord affirming, among other things, that the condition "endangers or materially impairs the health or safety of the tenants" and that the landlord failed to take effective action to remedy the problem despite receiving written notice of the condition. 14 MRS §6020(3). Remedies available to tenants who are successful in bringing such a case include an injunction to repair the condition. 14 MRS §6020(4).