(A) For the purpose of paying the expenses of conducting and managing the waterworks of a municipal corporation, including operating expenses and the costs of permanent improvements, the director of public service or any other city official or body authorized by charter may assess and collect a water rent or charge of sufficient amount and in such manner as the director, other official, or body determines to be most equitable from all tenements and premises supplied with water.
(1) When water rents or charges are not paid when due, the director or other official or body may do either or both of the following:
(a) Certify them, together with any penalties, to the county auditor. The county auditor shall place the certified amount on the real property tax list and duplicate against the property served by the connection if the auditor also receives from the director or other official or body additional certification that the unpaid rents or charges have arisen pursuant to a service contract made directly with an owner who occupies the property served.
The amount placed on the tax list and duplicate shall be a lien on the property served from the date placed on the list and duplicate and shall be collected in the same manner as other taxes, except that, notwithstanding section 323.15 of the Revised Code, a county treasurer shall accept a payment in such amount when separately tendered as payment for the full amount of such unpaid water rents or charges and associated penalties. The lien shall be released immediately upon payment in full of the certified amount. Any amounts collected by the county treasurer under this division shall be immediately placed in the distinct fund established by section 743.06 of the Revised Code.
(b) Collect them by actions at law, in the name of the city from an owner, tenant, or other person who is liable to pay the rents or charges.
(2) The director or other official body shall not certify to the county auditor for placement upon the tax list and duplicate and the county auditor shall not place upon the tax list and duplicate as a charge against the property the amount of any unpaid water rents or charges together with any penalties as described in division (A)(1)(a) of this section if any of the following apply:
(a) The property served by the connection has been transferred or sold to an electing subdivision as defined in section 5722.01 of the Revised Code, regardless of whether the electing subdivision is still the owner of the property, and the unpaid water rents or charges together with any penalties have arisen from a period of time prior to the transfer or confirmation of sale to the electing subdivision;
(b) The property served by the connection has been sold to a purchaser at sheriff's sale or auditor's sale, the unpaid water rents or charges together with any penalties have arisen from a period of time prior to the confirmation of sale, and the purchaser is not the owner of record of the property immediately prior to the judgment of foreclosure nor any of the following:
(i) A member of that owner's immediate family;
(ii) A person with a power of attorney appointed by that owner who subsequently transfers the land to the owner;
(iii) A sole proprietorship owned by that owner or a member of that owner's immediate family;
(iv) A partnership, trust, business trust, corporation, or association of which the owner or a member of the owner's immediate family owns or controls directly or indirectly more than fifty per cent.
(c) The property served by the connection has been forfeited to this state for delinquent taxes, unless the owner of record redeems the property.
(3) Upon valid written notice to the county auditor by any owner possessing an ownership interest of record of the property or by an electing subdivision previously in the chain of title of the property that the unpaid water rents or charges together with any penalties have been certified for placement or placed upon the tax list and duplicate as a charge against the property in violation of division (A)(2) of this section, the county auditor shall promptly remove such charge from the tax duplicate. This written notice to the county auditor shall include all of the following:
(a) The parcel number of the property;
(b) The common address of the property;
(c) The date of the recording of the transfer of the property to the owner or electing subdivision;
(d) The charge allegedly placed in violation of division (A)(2) of this section.
(4) Each director or other official or body that assesses water rents or charges shall determine the actual amount of rents due based upon an actual reading of each customer's meter at least once in each three-month period, and at least quarterly the director or other official or body shall render a bill for the actual amount shown by the meter reading to be due, except estimated bills may be rendered if access to a customer's meter was unobtainable for a timely reading. Each director or other official or body that assesses water rents or charges shall establish procedures providing fair and reasonable opportunity for resolution of billing disputes.
(5) When property to which water service is provided is about to be sold, any party to the sale or the agent of any such party may request the director or other official or body to read the meter at that property and to render within ten days following the date on which the request is made, a final bill for all outstanding rents and charges for water service. Such a request shall be made at least fourteen days prior to the transfer of the title of such property.
(6) At any time prior to a certification under division (A)(1)(a) of this section, the director or other official or body shall accept any partial payment of unpaid water rents or charges, in the amount of ten dollars or more.
(1) When title to a parcel of land that is subject to any of the actions described in division (A)(1) of this section is transferred to a county land reutilization corporation, any lien placed on the parcel under division (A)(1)(a) of this section shall be extinguished, and the corporation shall not be held liable for unpaid rents or charges in any collection action brought under division (A)(1)(b) of this section, if the rents or charges certified under division (A)(1)(a) of this section or subject to collection under division (A)(1)(b) of this section were incurred before the date of the transfer to the corporation and if the corporation did not incur the rents or charges, regardless of whether the rents or charges were certified, the lien was attached, or the action was brought before the date of transfer. In such a case, the corporation and its successors in title shall take title to the property free and clear of any such lien and shall be immune from liability in any such collection action.
If a county land reutilization corporation takes title to property before any rents or charges have been certified or any lien has been placed with respect to the property under division (A)(1) of this section, the corporation shall be deemed a bona fide purchaser for value without knowledge of such rents, charges, or lien, regardless of whether the corporation had actual or constructive knowledge of the rents, charges, or lien, and any such lien shall be void and unenforceable against the corporation and its successors in title.
(2) If a lien placed on a parcel is extinguished as provided in division (B)(1) of this section, the municipal corporation may pursue the remedy available under division (A)(1)(b) of this section to recoup the rents and charges incurred with respect to the parcel from any owner, tenant, or other person liable to pay such rents and charges.
Amended by 130th General Assembly File No. TBD, SB 172, §1, eff. 9/4/2014.
Effective Date: 09-24-1986