Court Upholds Takings

The Maine supreme court says the state Transportation Department legally took land occupied by a well-known restaurant so it could build a new bridge over the Penbobscot River.

In its ruling Thursday, the court says the former owners of the Sail Inn failed to present any evidence, other than personal opinion, contradicting the state’s position that taking all five acres of the restaurant’s land in Prospect was necessary.

The court also says plaintiffs Paul and Robert Dyer not contest that traffic safety concerns existed during construction of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge near the site of the Sail Inn.

The state condemned land for construction of a bridge to replace the Waldo-Hancock Bridge, which was built in 1931. The replacement bridge opened in 2006.

Maine Today

Why automatic rental termination fees are illegal

The story below describes a property management company that was automatically charging tenants a penalty if they moved out before their lease ended. While typically if you back out of a contract, which is essentially what your lease is, you still have to meet your obligation or pay to compensate the other party.

The reason a landlord cannot automatically charge the tenant the remainder of the lease amount or even a fee, is that if the landlord fills that unit, they will be making more than what they would have made under the contract. The landlord can only recover what they would have made if the lease / contract was fulfilled by the tenant.

But this does not mean you can just get out of your lease without risk. If you sign a one year lease, and move out before the end of the lease, you may have to pay the rent while you are not there. Your landlord will need to try to find another tenant.

A Portland-based property management company has agreed to stop automatically charging early termination fees when tenants leave an apartment before a lease is up.

According to Maine’s attorney general, Port Property Management typically charged tenants early departure fees of $600, even if it immediately re-rented the apartment. Attorney General Steve Rowe says automatic early termination fees can be illegal under Maine law if a landlord immediately finds a new tenant.

Under a court-ordered consent decree, Port Property Management also agreed to pay a $10,000 civil penalty and to refund money to tenants who were improperly charged early termination fees.

Port Property Management, which manages more than 700 apartments in Portland and South Portland, did not admit to any wrongdoing.