Is it required by law to measure the oil tank with a metered stick?

Asked by Sandra Beardsley, Rochester, NY Wed Dec 31, 2008

I have a question if anyone knows the answer...I bought a home this past September and the sellers real estate agent took the reading of the oil off the tank gauge rather than reading it with a stick. The issue now is that the gauge was installed incorrectly and I ran out of oil even though my tank gauge still showed 1/2 a tank. I paid for oil that I didn't have and now I don't know who should be responsible for the difference in money I paid for the oil? Is the sellers real estate agent the one responsible since he is the one that gave the reading or is the seller responsible since she was the one that actually collected the $ for the oil?
Any advise will be helpful.

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Dane Hahn, , 34223
Wed Dec 31, 2008
There is no requirement by law for any charge at closing for the cost of oil in the tank, but there is a provision in the Purchase contract (called the P&S) that says the buyer will reimburse the seller for fuel in storage. It is usually but not always enforced at the closing when one or both agents agree to the amount of fuel that is in storage, and then by taking "today's price" they compute the value of the fuel.

There is no account for a meter that is wrong, there would be no reason for either agent to know the meter was faulty, and so the onus would have to fall on the sellers, who would or should have known that the meter was not accurate--or at least should have suspected that it might have been inaccurate.

Fuel in storage is LP gas or oil or wood pellets or even cord wood. (We don't generally charge for cord wood anymore), but you were charged for the oil and did not receive the oil as promised. I would call my Realtor and discuss this with him or her. You and your Realtor should be able to determine about how much oil was actually in the tank, and minus that from what you were charged. Your Realtor may then be able to get the sellers to reimburse you without taking any "legal" steps, but that would be your next method of satisfaction.

One of the documents you both signed at closing states that if any errors were made at the closing, you would work together "in good faith" to correct the error. You will now see why this small document, that meant so little when you signed it, is so important.

Good luck,

Dane Hahn
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1 vote
Ktocool, Home Buyer, Rahway, NJ
Mon Jul 4, 2016
Sounds Like you are a real Knit picker. Do you want them to pay for any light bulbs that were out as well? Glad I dont live next to you !
0 votes
Nhyankyman, Home Buyer, North Carolina
Mon Feb 22, 2010
If someone is selling their home why in the heck should anyone be responseible to pay for the oil in the tank.
That's like saying I just put fertileizer on the lawn too also I paid someone to plow the driveway and planted new shurbs and so on. Or saying yes my car is for sale but you have to payme back for the gas, and oil change, oh and i can give you the old tires that still pass inspection if you don't want to pay me for the new one i just put on . Lets get real you sell your home you shouldn't be reembursed for oil or naything else. Lets face it all the old homes in rochester nh are so over priced to start with and most of the home with under 1400 sq. ft. are also over priced
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Scott Godzyk, Agent, Manchester, NH
Sat Jan 3, 2009
Sandra fuel prorations are usually between the seller and the buyer. There is no rule that the realtor or teh seller should use a stick. There are some factors such as how long after your closing did you run out of oil. you will also have to figure out if the seller knew the guage was broken. your best option is to contact the listing agent. figure how much oil was actually in the tank and subtract it from what you paid and ask for a check back for the amount of oil that was not in teh tanjk that you were chgarged for. If they dont respond you can simply take them to small claims court. if you had a buyer broker they should be handling all of this for you. good luck
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Gregg Brooks, , New Hampshire
Thu Jan 1, 2009
There is no law, the seller doesn't even have to charge you if it's a minimal amount.
Oil prorations are a matter between you and the seller, the agent is not responsible because the gage was wrong. I've been using the gage reading in my 28 years of real esaate sales. I do try to have the seller present the l;ast receipt they may have but that is not always possible. You can go after the seller for the money but the transaction is complete so unless the seller feels it's the rioght thing to do you're pretty much on your own. Get that gage fixed, try to find out who manufactured the oil tank and see what you can do because of a faulty gage. Butyv that to may be a long road that's not worth the effort.

Gregg Brooks
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David Garofa…, , Jamestown, NY
Wed Dec 31, 2008
I can't say I know the 'legal' answer. However the first questions I would have are:
Can we figure out when the guage broke?
Was it unkown before the closing?
If the prior owner did not know the guage was broken you lieley have less of a case.
How much money are we talking? a few hundred dollars may not be worth pursuing. A few thousand however might be. That is something only you can decide.
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