Foreclosure in York>Question Details

Carolyn, Home Buyer in Pennsylvania

Underground Propane Tanks & Foreclosure

Asked by Carolyn, Pennsylvania Wed May 26, 2010

Purchased a long vacant/foreclosed property. Title/Deed specifically state all fixtures are the property of the buyer with no exclusions listed. No leans or other claims were filed against the property at the time of purchase. Now the propane company is claiming ownership of the propane tank. I would think if the tank had belonged to the propane company they would have an obligation to notify the bank or file some legal claim to perserve their right of ownership. If the bank and the buyer had not knowledge of any claim, once the sale was completed, am I correct to believe the tank would be considered abandoned? I've heard "rumor" that there is some exception to the law that excludes propane tanks but I wam not able to find anything.

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I am thinking you have a problem. Every REO I have sold, the bank is selling in as is contiion and their addendum is the controling document. So review that contract and addendum very carefully. Because the propane company most likely still owns the tank and you have no agreement with them, so as far as they are concerned they still own the tank. The bank would be the only place I would think a attorney would say you had potential satisfaction. This is really a attorney question to answer. Because it gets down to the contract you signed and the law.

Good Luck
Keith Manson

First Weber Group
Certified Distressed Property Expert
Metro Milwaukee
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 29, 2010

Then that is a serious dilemma. The company would need to prove that it is their tank which was buried there (I was thinking underground enclosure for aesthetic purposes). And you need to find out if the previous owners bought the tank. And beyond finding that owner (which you should try to do), I have no clue as to how you may proceed. You may need to get an attorney involved. And quickly before the company puts a lien on the property.

You may also need to make a choice of paying for the tank (which from my experience can be from $500 (used) to $1500 (brand new)) or pay for the lawyer at a couple hundred per hour and you may still lose.

That's the only advise I can offer at this point yet I would at LEAST have a consult with a real estate attorney. Consults are usually free or offered at a minimal cost.

I hope that things will go well for you.

Terrence Charest
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 26, 2010

The tank is a 500 gal. tank buried in the ground and is not, IMO, considered readily removable. And around here, folks do either purchase their own tank or lease. Many have found that the inflated cost per gal. of propane delivered to a leased tank makes replacing it with an self-owned tank more economical. There was a two dollar a gallon price difference just this winter so four or five fill-ups pays for the cost of installing your own reasonably sized tank. Depending upon outside temps and the size of the house, folks may fill up their tanks twice or more just in one winter heating season.

It must have been the older agreement of sale. "Section 7 - fixtures, trees, shrubbery, etc". does, as you mention, state "remaining heating and cooking fuels, excluding propane, stored on the property at time of settlement." I take this to mean the fuel itself as companies may buy back unused propane and credit the seller.

In addtion to the standard wording of Section 7 there were addendums listed such as stove, microwave, exterior out building... concluding with the phrase "All items currently in/on property" are INCLUDED in the sale and purchase price. The following items to be EXCLUDED from the sale contains the word NONE.

There is no wording on page 3 such as you describe. No other addendum mentions the propane tank or propane service.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 26, 2010
You did not state how you offered to purchase this property. If the agent used the new Agreement of Sale, then on page three lines 72 and 73 three states <emphasis from me> "...and, IF OWNED, water treatment systems, propane tanks, satellite dishes and security systems...". Also, in the old Agreement of Sale, it only mentions of the FUEL is included in the sale of the property.

As this was a foreclosure, I am 99.9% sure that the lender had their own addendum to the Agreement of Sale and it would have mentioned something in there. As for the deed, yes. If it's permanently attached, then it's part of the property. However, propane tanks are readily removable and are almost always leased instead of owned.

If you are hunting for better prices, then shop around and go with a company which is cheaper. If the company is the same as the one who owns the tank, then just sign up with them. If it's a different company, have the company who owns the tank remove the tank (reimbursing you for the remaining fuel in the tank) and have the new company come out and put in their tank.

Terrence Charest
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 26, 2010
Hi Carolyn,

Many propane tanks are rented by the owner, not sold to the owner.
If this is indeed the case, the propane company would indeed still
own it. The seller could not have conveyed what he did not own
when you purchased the home.

If you are using propane currently, it is a simple matter to sign up with the propane company to continue
service in your name.

I hope that helps.

Assoc Broker Prudential Indiana Realty Group
Indy area
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 26, 2010
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