Fees and charges for water and sewer services provided to a tenant or lessee of the property owner.
   (A)   Notwithstanding any provision of law, general or special, the provisions of this section apply to any locality or authority, as such term is defined in VA Code § 15.2-5101.
   (B)   (1)   The Town of Brookneal, when providing water or sewer services to a lessee or tenant of the property owner shall do so directly to the tenant after:
         (a)   Obtaining from the property owner a written or electronic authorization to obtain water and sewer services in the name of such lessee or tenant; and
         (b)   The town shall use the lien rights afforded under VA Code § 15.2-2119(G), collecting a security deposit from the lessee or tenant as reasonably determined by the locality to be sufficient to collateralize the locality or authority for 5 months of water and sewer charges.
      (2)   When the property owner has provided the lessee or tenant with written authorization to obtain water and sewer services in the name of such lessee or tenant, nothing herein shall be construed to authorize the town to require:
         (a)   The property owner to put water and sewer services in the name of such property owner, except in the case where a single meter serves multiple tenant units; or
         (b)   A security deposit or a guarantee of payment from such property owner.
   (C)   (1)   The property owner may open, or activate a new utility service account in their own name on behalf of the tenant if so desired so long as the property owner does not owe the town money for any other delinquent utility accounts also in the name of the property owner. If this election is made by the property owner (in order to help their tenant get utility services activated) and under their own volition as the case may be, the property owner becomes responsible for the costs of utility services.
      (2)   For purposes of this section, a written or electronic authorization from the property owner to obtain water and sewer services in the name of such lessee or tenant substantially in the form as follows, or a copy of the lease or rental agreement, shall be sufficient compliance with this section:
[Town of Brookneal Municipal Water and Sewer Service 215 Main St. Brookneal VA 24528]
To Whom It May Concern:
[INSERT TENANT NAME] has entered into a lease for the property located at:
and is authorized to obtain services at this address as a tenant of [INSERT PROPERTY OWNER NAME]
PROPERTY OWNER: I hereby acknowledge the Town of Brookneal in accordance with local and state law has the power and authority to attach a lien to my real estate for up to three months delinquent water and/or sewer charges accrued by my tenant(s). I understand that if a lien is placed on my real estate, and after reasonable collection efforts have been undertaken, the Town of Brookneal may refuse water service to any subsequent tenant until all past due fees, charges, collection expenses etc. have been paid in full and the lien has been removed.
   (D)   (1)   If the fees and charges charged for water service or the use and services of the sewage disposal system by or in connection with any real estate are not paid when due, (first business day of each month), a penalty and interest shall be owed, as provided for by general law by the lessee or tenant and will be charged by the Treasurer to the account holder on the 16th calendar day of each month, or next business day if the 16th falls on a holiday or weekend.
      (2)   If such lessee or tenant does not pay the full amount of charges, penalty, and interest for water provided or cease such disposal within 30 days after the due date (the first day of each month), the locality, (Town of Brookneal), shall notify such lessee or tenant of the delinquency. A copy of the delinquency notice may also be communicated by appropriate means to the property owner.
      (3)   This notice of delinquency shall also state the date of service termination should the outstanding amounts owed to the town not be paid by the service termination (cut-off date). This notice shall satisfy the 10 business day requirement prior to service termination.
      (4)   If such lessee or tenant does not pay the full amount of charges, penalty, and interest for water provided or cease such disposal within 60 days after the due date, the Town of Brookneal may cease supplying water and sewage disposal services (service will be termination/cut-off).
   (E)   (1)   If the lessee or tenant does not pay the full amount of charges, penalty, and interest for water or the use and services of the sewage disposal system in a timely manner as set out herein, in addition to cessation of such service, the Town of Brookneal shall employ reasonable collection efforts and practices to collect amounts due from the lessee or tenant prior to sending written notice to, or taking any collection or legal action against, the property owner regarding the delinquency of payment of such lessee or tenant. Costs of collection up to 20% of the outstanding charges may be added to any unpaid amounts.
      (2)   For the purposes of this section, "reasonable collection efforts and practices" include:
         (a)   Applying the security deposit paid by the lessee or tenant to the payment of the outstanding balance; and
         (b)   Either filing for the Setoff Debt Collection Program (VA Code § 58.1-520 et seq.) or placing the account with a debt collection service.
   (F)   Only after the town has taken the reasonable collection efforts set forth in VA Code § 15.2-2119(E) and practices to collect such fees and charges from the lessee or tenant may the town proceed to notify the property owner of such outstanding lien obligation of such lessee or tenant and thereafter to record a lien against the property owner by using the lien recordation and release of lien processes as set out in VA Code § 15.2-2119 and only after notice to the property owner as required in VA Code § 15.2-2119. Such a lien, up to 3 months of delinquent water and sewer charges, shall constitute a lien against the property ranking on a parity with liens for unpaid taxes.
   (G)   If a lien is recorded against the property owner and the property owner pays any of the delinquent obligations of such former lessee or tenant, upon payment of the outstanding balance, or any portion thereof, or of any amounts of such fees and charges owed by the former tenant, the property owner shall be entitled to receive any refunds and shall be subrogated against the former tenant in place of the locality or authority in the amount paid by the property owner. The locality or authority shall execute all documents necessary to perfect such subrogation in favor of the property owner. (Example: tenant fails to pay bill; town places lien on property; property owner pays tenant's outstanding bill; later the town through whatever collection activities are implemented does in fact collect from the tenant; the town must refund the property owner's money paid to cover the delinquent account)... (the town cannot collect twice on the same debt.)
   (H)   Unless a lien has been recorded against the property owner, the locality or authority shall not deny service to a new tenant who is requesting service at a particular property address based upon the fact that a former tenant has not paid any outstanding fees and charges charged for the use and services in the name of the former previous tenant.
   (I)   In addition, the town shall provide information relative to a former tenant or current tenant to the property owner upon request of the property owner. If the property owner provides the town a request to be notified of a tenant's delinquent water or sewer bill and provides an email address, the town shall send the property owner notice when a tenant's water or sewer bill has become 30 days delinquent.
   (J)   The town shall not require a security deposit from the lessee or tenant to obtain water and sewer services in the name of such lessee or tenant if such lessee or tenant presents to the locality or authority a landlord authorization letter that has attached documentation showing that such lessee or tenant receives need-based local, state, or federal rental assistance, and the absence of a security deposit shall not prevent a locality from exercising its lien rights as authorized under this section. All other provisions of this section shall apply.
   (K)   Service disconnect.
      (1)   (a)   Payment in full for utility bills are due and must be received in the Treasurer's office by 5:00 p.m. on the cut-off day in order to be paid prior to cut-off.
         (b)   At 5:00 p.m. on the cut-off day, town officials begin water cut-offs.
         (c)   Town officials conducting cut-off duties are not obligated to accept payment of bills while out in the field.
         (d)   If paying by mail, the check must be received in the town office before 5:00 p.m. on the cut-off date. The town will not accept postmarked mail containing utility payment checks after 5:00 p.m. on cut-off day.
         (e)   If paying by online, or telephone payment system, your payment must be placed prior to 5:00 p.m. on the cut-off date. Any payments made after 5:00 p.m. are considered late and utility service will be terminated due to non-payment.
         (f)   If service is terminated because of non-payment the account holder may visit the town office the following day, or any day the town office is open thereafter to take care of the matter.
         (g)   Only town officials are authorized to access water meters to turn service on or off; any tampering with a meter is a criminal offense and will be prosecuted as outlined elsewhere in town code.
      (2)   (a)   Within 15 days from the issue date of the bill, if any account holder disputes the correctness of their bill, the account holder shall have a right to a timely hearing. When a hearing is scheduled, the account holder may be represented in person and by counsel or any other person of their choosing and may present orally or in writing their dispute to the town official in charge of utility billing. This official shall be authorized to order that the customer's service not be discontinued and shall have the authority to make a final determination of the customer's dispute.
         (b)   Billing disputes shall not be for the purpose of requesting delays or waivers of payment; only questions or disputes related to proper and correct billing will be considered. In the absence of payment of the bill rendered or resorting to the hearing procedure provided herein to determine if a billing adjustment needs to be made, service will be discontinued at the time specified.
      (3)   When it becomes necessary for the town to discontinue utility service to a customer for nonpayment of bills, service will be reinstated only after all bills for service then due have been paid, along with the current reconnection fee, and the deposit must be restored to its full amount in cases where the town had to use deposit money to cover unpaid utility charges.
(Am. Ord. passed 10-1-2018)