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  #1  
Old 12/03/10, 08:00 PM
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question re: renter and unused propane

My renter who is a very young graduate student told me in August that he wanted to stay in the cottage for two years. I told him we would have a trial period from Aug-Dec. then decide what to do about renewal.

He told me Dec 1 that he would be moving out this month, and today he told me to buy back the propane in the tank that he didn't use. And if I didn't, he would call the propane company and they would come and get it (and buy it back).

The account is in my name, and I haven't had a chance to talk to the propane company, but am I beholding to him? There is no clause in the rent that says Landlord will purchase unused propane. It was filled in early November and I had not a clue that he would be leaving. If I had not had the tank filled, he would be pretty cold by now.

And also, can the propane company come and get gas that is in my name?

What typically happens in this case? If I do buy it back, how is it pro-rated?
I think I would feel better about it if he hadn't been so assertive in his demand.

Would appreciate opinions as there are many on this forum!

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  #2  
Old 12/03/10, 08:19 PM
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If the renter paid for the propane to be put in, I would say they are entitled to a refund for what they didn't use. I am assuming you want some heat in the cottage even if vacant to protect the pipes, so no sense in having the propane company back out to pump it out. But figuring out how much of it they used might be tricky, unless the tank was flat empty when it was put in.

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  #3  
Old 12/03/10, 08:19 PM
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If the gas is paid for and the account is in your name, they aren't going to take authorization from an outside party to come get it.

I think he's out of luck, but call the Propane company on Monday.

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  #4  
Old 12/03/10, 08:20 PM
 
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Noway , Nohow. If it's in your name call the propane company and let them know , so he can't call and act like you to have them pick it up. Even if he paid for the propane he could not get the propane co. to take the gas out if the tank is yours. If he had the tank installed and it was in his name he could have them pick-up the tank and thats about it.

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  #5  
Old 12/03/10, 08:26 PM
 
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Attitude is important and being overly assertive is not conducive to good relationships, business or personal. That said, it sounds as though he ordered the propane on his own, you have no way of knowing at this point that it's paid for. He may have set up a payment plan with them. It sounds as though you will be checking with them and will ask about that.

I use propane and can't even imagine any propane company buying it back. Contamination / water in your tank ? Just doesn't sound practical to me. He may very well need the money for future rental deposit, etc

If it is paid for per the company and your property is still in good order vs damaged, that would sway me in favor of helping him out and at the same time let him know that you're doing him a favor. I would also ask why he had a change of heart regarding his stay. Good luck.

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  #6  
Old 12/03/10, 08:29 PM
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It sounds like he is a bit rough around the edges but was trying to be good about it.
In other words he was offering it to you before the propane company. Which IS nice IF he bought the propane.
If he didnt none of that makes any sence at all!Tell him its yours and you will keep it.

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  #7  
Old 12/03/10, 08:30 PM
 
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Propane companies buy back propane all the time.

That said, Who paid for the propane?

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  #8  
Old 12/03/10, 08:36 PM
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The account is in my name. He pays me -- he did NOT set up an account or pay system or anything of the sort with the propane company. He has nothing to do with it. As a renter, he pays for the heat!

I -- I had it filled, in my name; my account. It was down to about 20% when they came to fill it in Nov/late Oct. It was not empty.

In my mind he has no authority to tell the propane company to do anything. I agree that I should probably pay him something, but again I ask: how to figure it?

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  #9  
Old 12/03/10, 08:38 PM
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Why should you buy back something your renter over paid? It is not your responsibility to reimburse him for his stupidity! He should not have bought more than he could use.

In addition, he implied that he wanted to rent for 2 years and you rented with the expectation that he would be there 2 years and he changes his mind!

Don't budge!

In the future, get a lease signed spelling out the renter-owner expectations or requirments.

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  #10  
Old 12/03/10, 08:45 PM
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500 gallon tank, so you can put in 450 gallons, right? 20% of 450 is 90 gallons that were already in there. If it was filled up, see how much is left in there when he moves out and pay him for that amount less 90 gallons. If it wasn't filled up when they brought gas, take however much they put in minus how much is left on moveout day, minus your 90 gallons.

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  #11  
Old 12/03/10, 08:52 PM
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If you pay the bill, he can't ask for a refund even if he called to order it; he's out nothing. He can ask that the 80% that was put in be prorated and that the unused fuel costs (you own it and it's yours) not be held against his security deposit or subject to future litigation. Maybe he believes he's responsible for THE ENTIRE TANKFUL or maybe not. I'd do my best to figure out how much he used, assess him for that amount and move on. That's assuming he left/is leaving the property in good condition.

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  #12  
Old 12/03/10, 09:33 PM
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They don't fill propane tanks full. I think only 80% or something like that. Ask the propane co about that. How full is the tank now?

Having said that, I don't think he has any right to have the propane company buy it back, if it is in your name. Call the propane company and tell them to deal directly with you, and not any third party. I think you need to inspect the entire property and assess what is owed to whom when he moves out.

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  #13  
Old 12/03/10, 09:44 PM
 
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Doc , did he pay for the whole tank to be filled. If not and only paid you as part of his rent then you owe him nothing.

If however he paid you in full for the tank being filled. Ask the propane co. what the fuel price was at that time. Figure as follows.

Tank can only legally be filled to 80%.(CommonTater is correct) It had 20% in it at time of fill , that means the most they could of put in was 60%. Look at gauge to see how much is in the tank after his move out date. Take that % munber and subtract it from the 60% he paid for and that will tell you what he used of what he paid for.

Example : 100gal Tank @ 80% fill is 80 gals. minus your 20%(20gals.) at time of fill. Means he paid for 60%(60gals.) you check gauge it says 50% (50gals) that means he used 30%(30gals) of the 60% (60gals) he paid for. Even though the tank gauge says 50% (50gals) remember 20% (20gals) was yours in the tank before he paid for it. Then you would owe him for 30% (30gals.) at the price per gal. he paid.

Thats if you feel so inclined to pay it to him. I know in Mo. you are not abligated to return any amount of the propane cost to him and he is just out the money especially if he left the house in bad shape. Trust me no court here would make you pay him back for the propane. I would do nothing until he has left the house and returned the keys to you.

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  #14  
Old 12/03/10, 10:01 PM
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I wouldn't pay a tenant one cent for the propane that he overfilled the tank with. He knew when he was planning to move out. If he filled that tank more then he needed that was his own stupid fault.

If he can get the propane company to settle up with him, that's his buisness. Seeing as it's your tank, I'd call the propane company and remind them that they are only authorized to deliver, and not retrieve propane from your tank.

Pete

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  #15  
Old 12/03/10, 10:03 PM
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Call the propane co and ask them - they have their own policies!

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  #16  
Old 12/03/10, 10:54 PM
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Sheesh, glad I don't have to rent from some of y'all. Even if the agreement didn't specifically cover the propane, I wouldn't want to take advantage of a renter if they paid for way more gas than they used. As long as they paid their rent in full, gave notice they were moving, and left the place in the same shape as they found it, why keep "their" propane??

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  #17  
Old 12/03/10, 11:07 PM
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How full was the tank when he moved in? He would be respnsible for any propane used from Aug to the filling in Nov if propane is not supplied as part of the rent. Filling the tank could have been for any he had already used.

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  #18  
Old 12/03/10, 11:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MO_cows View Post
Sheesh, glad I don't have to rent from some of y'all. Even if the agreement didn't specifically cover the propane, I wouldn't want to take advantage of a renter if they paid for way more gas than they used. As long as they paid their rent in full, gave notice they were moving, and left the place in the same shape as they found it, why keep "their" propane??
I just went back and reread the original post. This was a "trial" rental which means BOTH sides had a right to change their minds, right? Or should have. So the tenant actually paid for the propane and you want to keep it? Why? I don't care if it's your account or not; it's not yours. Shame on you!
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  #19  
Old 12/03/10, 11:32 PM
 
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He already said he wants to pay the renter for the propane. His question is about how to figure out how much to pay him. I don't have an answer, but there's no need to jump all over the guy.

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  #20  
Old 12/03/10, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ryanthomas View Post
He already said he wants to pay the renter for the propane. His question is about how to figure out how much to pay him. I don't have an answer, but there's no need to jump all over the guy.
Easy to do. OP knows (or should have) how much was in the tank when the tenant had it filled. If not, then what the tenant added and has used can be ascertained when OP has the tank filled then does some math. If tenant had if filled soon after taking possession, it's simple; if not, some negotiation and cogitation needs to happen.
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  #21  
Old 12/03/10, 11:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Doc View Post
The account is in my name. He pays me -- he did NOT set up an account or pay system or anything of the sort with the propane company. He has nothing to do with it. As a renter, he pays for the heat!

I -- I had it filled, in my name; my account. It was down to about 20% when they came to fill it in Nov/late Oct. It was not empty.

In my mind he has no authority to tell the propane company to do anything. I agree that I should probably pay him something, but again I ask: how to figure it?
I still don't comprehend this.

Better carefully explain, who got billed for what, and who wrote checks to whom?

The tank & propane account is in your name, so any bill for it would come to _you_. You said you ordered it, not him.

Your renter pays for the heat you say, but in what way? How? Do you forward the bill to him & he writes the full check to the propane company. Or do you pay the propane company, and the renter writes a check of the same amount to you? This is terribly unclear.

It can make a difference. In case a scam is going on here, the fella could be writing a bad check to you ot the propane company, and in the end the bill will fall upon you as you are the person listed on the bill. So.... I'd like to understand your complicated arrangement here. Sux if you refund money, and 30 days later the propane company re-bills you because of a bad check.

If thefella paid the whole bill for the tank of propane, and now is leaving, and all checks are good and bill is really paid, then surely you should refund him for the unused propane. As this was a trial period, works both ways, the lease was up in Dec and here we are, goals change and he is exersizing his option.

It should be fairly simple to see from the propane invoice (which you have, or can get because it's in your name) how many gallons they put in the tank to make it how full (often 80%) and what is left in it now from the gauge.

Refund him what wasn't used. That would only be fair. If he did pay for the tankful to begin with, and his payment was good to whomever he made the payment to - which is still not clear to me....

--->Paul
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  #22  
Old 12/04/10, 12:26 AM
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Thanks, Paul, for pointing out my erroneous assumptions. If tenant didn't pay any bills to the propane company, then he owes OP for ALL gas used less any amounts paid to OP. If tenant paid for ALL "fill ups", OP owes him something since the tank is not empty. If something hybrid occurred, then cogitation is in order.

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  #23  
Old 12/04/10, 12:58 AM
 
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If you want to know how much the tenant used have the tank refilled and refund the original amount he paid minus the amount of the refill. This assumes the price of propane has not drastically changed since it was filled. That is the easiest way and in the future you should fill the tank when it is rented and take a deposit to cover the cost. Make it the tenants responsibility to pay for future propane and have it filled when they leave and return what is left of the deposit. Just like a rental car. Nice to see you want to do the right thing.

Jim

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  #24  
Old 12/04/10, 04:31 AM
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A few years back, my tenant ordered propane. Seemed normal, since he was the one using it. He used it up, didn't pay for it, moved out. Guess who owes for the fuel. The property owner, me.
I needed to keep some heat in there while it sat empty, I called up and ordered 100 gal. They delivered 500 gal. They said I ordered a fill up. I wanted them to take it back. They don't take fuel back, ever.
So, when I rented again, I explained that since there is 40% in the tank when they moved in, they must have that much in it when they leave. They used it up and moved out. Couldn't find them.
So, I drained the water pipes and let the place sit with an empty propane tank. The following year, I got a bill for $100 from the Propane Co., if I'm not using their fuel, I have to pay rent on the tank. I said forget that, come get your tank. Took them a year and twenty phone calls. Finally, I went to the office and looked around the parking lot until someone asked what I was doing. I told them I was looking for the best spot to drop off a tank, I figured I could shove it out the box of my truck. They came out the next day.
Renters and propane tanks are often a troublesome combo.

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  #25  
Old 12/04/10, 07:28 AM
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A couple of you are on the right path but do have flawed thinking.

IF the tank is a 500 gallon water capacity tank the percentage is figured off of that, not what percentage the tank might be filled to.

IF it is a 500 gallon tank the 20% it contained BEFORE the fill would be 100 gallons.

Add to the beginning 100 gallons the additional gallons from the fill ticket in November. Example only, 300 gallons for a total starting gallonage of 400.

When the renter moves out lightly tap the side of the gauge to make sure the needle is free and not stuck at a higher %, and read the percentage left in the tank, i.e. example 60%. Ex 60% of a 500 gallon tank would be 300 gallons.

The difference in the example would be the beginning 400 gallons and the example ending gallons of 300, so the renter USED 100 gallons and that is what he should pay for and credited for any other amount he previously paid for.

Gauges are fairly accurate but still they are an approximation as the dial itself works on a magnetic principal to connect to the float rather than directly.

Charging ONLY for what was used would be the right thing to do.

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  #26  
Old 12/04/10, 08:28 AM
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Windy, you forgot to account for the fact that they don't fill the tanks 100% full, only 80% full.

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  #27  
Old 12/04/10, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Common Tator View Post
Windy, you forgot to account for the fact that they don't fill the tanks 100% full, only 80% full.
When figuring the gallons in the tank or used is based on the W.C. or water capacity of the tank. How much it potentially holds is not a factor when nothing but percentages and the actual gallons is used off of the fill ticket.

BTW, the tank should have a stamped label welded on it or stamped into the metal which will show the W.C. which stand for water capacity.
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Last edited by Windy in Kansas; 12/04/10 at 09:23 AM.
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  #28  
Old 12/04/10, 09:30 AM
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Tell him to get his propane out of your tank.
Be sure to notify the propane company first.

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  #29  
Old 12/04/10, 09:48 AM
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Call the propane company they can come and tell you how much is left in your tank and the cost. You can then reimburse the renter what he has paid, minus what was initially left in the tank.

Same as if you were purchasing a house.

If he paid for the propane then he should get his money back from you. If you don't want to do this, you can ask the propane company to buy back the propane, but it will leave you without heat.

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  #30  
Old 12/04/10, 09:50 AM
 
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Many things are not clear here. Something caused the renter to give notice. Was it something wrong with the habitat, the relationship with the owner, his circumstances at school or romance, family complications, distance from school, price comparison with other rentals?

Just a few thoughts regarding you the owner. It is wise to qualify tenants prior to signing the lease. However, the 3 month trial period appears to have created a complication for you. Having a background, criminal, and eviction record check costs money, and delays initial move-in a few days, but then a one year lease removes the chance of what just happened to you. Another wise things is to take and date digital photos of every room in the place being rented.

You also did not mention (still an unknown) the condition of the rental before and after occupancy. Now you may have expenses and labor as well as a vacant rental unit in a bad market in the dead of winter. The propane issue is really the simple one to me. The suggestions above are good. Schedule a time with the tenant to inspect the condition of his habitat prior to his departure. Make him a list of your expectations. Study ahead so you know what your losses may be through the cold winter due to the tenant leaving. If you charged him with the propane bill and he paid up front, he does deserve some of his money returned. He may not like it but would have a hard time contesting what you calculate. I am a bit surprised that you had him pay the total up front rather than a monthly $ amount based on approximate usage.

Being an owner is a lot more than just an investment. It is a job. Give yourself a job review. Is it worth it?

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Last edited by gobug; 12/04/10 at 09:52 AM.
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