(b) Whenever any rates and charges for services or facilities furnished remain unpaid for a period of thirty days after the same become due and payable, the user of the services and facilities provided shall be delinquent and the user shall be held liable at law until such time as all such rates and charges are fully paid.
(c) All rates and charges whenever delinquent, as provided by ordinance of the municipality, shall, when notice thereof is duly recorded in the office of the clerk of the county commission wherein the subject real property is situate, be liens of equal dignity, rank and priority with the lien on such premises of state, county, school and municipal taxes for the amount thereof upon the real property served, and the municipality shall have plenary power and authority from time to time to enforce such lien in a civil action to recover the money due for such services rendered plus court fees and costs and a reasonable attorney's fee: Provided, That an owner of real property may not be held liable for the delinquent rates or charges for services or facilities of a tenant, nor shall any lien attach to real property for the reason of delinquent rates or charges for services or facilities of a tenant of such real property, unless the owner has contracted directly with the municipality to purchase such services or facilities.
(d) Municipalities are hereby granted a deferral of filing fees or other fees and costs incidental to the bringing and maintenance of an action in magistrate court for the collection of the delinquent rates and charges. If the municipality collects the delinquent account, plus fees and costs, from its customer or other responsible party, the municipality shall pay to the magistrate court the filing fees or other fees and costs which were previously deferred.
(e) No municipality may foreclose upon the premises served by it for delinquent rates and charges for which a lien is authorized by this section except through the bringing and maintenance of a civil action for such purpose brought in the circuit court of the county wherein the municipality lies. In every such action, the court shall be required to make a finding based upon the evidence and facts presented that the municipality had exhausted all other remedies for the collection of debts with respect to such delinquencies prior to the bringing of such action. In no event shall foreclosure procedures be instituted by any municipality or on its behalf unless such delinquency has been in existence or continued for a period of two years from the date of the first such delinquency for which foreclosure is being instituted.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
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