Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
SECTION 1. Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law to the contrary, the town of Northbridge, its officers, employees, and agents, shall not shut off the flow of water, nor discontinue sanitary sewer services to a residential building in which the occupant thereof is not the customer of record of said town's water or sanitary sewer service, without first providing adequate notice to the occupant of each affected dwelling unit in a manner prescribed by regulation of the department of public works of said town. Such notice shall contain the following information:
(a) the amount due and payable for such water or sanitary sewer service;
(b) the date on or after which such service will be shut off, such date to be not less than fifteen nor more than thirty days, as determined by said department, after the day on which such notice is first given;
(c) the date on which such notice is given; and
(d) the right of the occupant of such building to pay the amount due or such portion thereof as may be prescribed by regulation of said department to avoid a cessation of service and to recover the amounts so paid from the person to whom they would otherwise pay their rent.
An employee of said department or a police officer of the town may, at a reasonable time, enter the common hallways of such building to post or deliver notice pursuant to this section. Any person who removes, interferes or tampers with such notice shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars. Any such violation may be enforced by noncriminal disposition pursuant to section twenty-one D of chapter forty of the General Laws.
At any time after the date such notice is given, an occupant of a dwelling unit within any such building may pay to the town the amount due or such portion thereof as is mutually agreed upon by the occupant and the department of public works. If no such agreement is reached, said department shall make a final determination of the amount of said portion, in order to avoid cessation of service. If such final determination by said department is not made prior to the date on which service otherwise would have been terminated, such service shall be continued for a period not to exceed fifteen days, during which time said department shall render its final determination. If such amount is received after service has been shut off, service shall be restored as soon as practicable.
SECTION 2. Any such occupant who has paid all or any portion of the amount due the town for water or sanitary sewer services in accordance with section one may subsequently recover the amount paid, either by deducting such amount from any rent or payment on account of taxes or operating expenses then or thereafter due from such occupant to the person to whom he would otherwise pay his rent or by obtaining reimbursement from the person to whom he last paid rent. The department of public works shall, upon receiving any such payment, notify the person liable for service as stated in the notice of the amounts paid by any occupant pursuant to the provisions of this act.
A waiver of any of the provisions of this act in a lease or other rental agreement shall be void and unenforceable. The provisions of section eighteen of chapter one hundred and eighty-six and section two A of chapter two hundred and thirty-nine of the General Laws shall apply to any reprisal against an occupant for exercising his rights pursuant to this section.
The department of public works may establish, from time to time, rules and regulations consistent with this act as may be necessary for its implementation.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon its passage.