Problem with newly bought property

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Bear, Nov 28, 2006.

  1. Bear

    Bear Well-Known Member

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    I recently purchased a 10 acre property with a nice cabin with intentions of living there full time. While I was at this property for bear hunting season I discovered an underground gas tank next to an outbuilding. The realtor never mentioned anything about it. And the owner lied on the disclosure sheet on line 17 about any hazardous substances and environmental issues; checking NO under knowledge of any underground tanks. To me this is a big problem, espically if I ever want to resell it. It's bad enough this guy lied about numerous other problems about the property, but this really has me furious!!! What recourse do I have? I'm thinking about consulting a real estate attorney. I'm so mad I feel like suing them tobuy it back. What can I do? Thank you in advance for any and all information!!! Jim Oh by the way, the owner states he owned this property for 16 years, so there is no way he was "unaware" of this gas tank!
     
  2. kitaye

    kitaye Well-Known Member

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    Real Estate attorney is your only recourse unless it is financed and you have title insurance. At least make him pay for having it safely removed. Also, you might want to contact his agent and let him know there was a problem. If he doesn't care contact the real estate board for your county and lodge a complaint.
     

  3. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The realtor has no dog in this chase - he/she has to go with what the seller/owner discloses. You MAY be able to go after the seller/owner IF you can PROOVE they had knowledge of the gas tank and deliberately failed to disclose same. That's fraud, but most probably will take more $$ than it's worth unless you can use that as leverage to make the seller/owner pay for the removal. Lots of luck.
     
  4. TnAndy

    TnAndy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    When you say "gas tank", do you mean propane or a liquid fuel like gasoline/heating oil, etc ?

    IF it was propane, and you don't want it, I'd just dig it up, make sure it was empty and haul it to a scrap yard.

    BUT if you mean a liquid fuel tank, then you could have a boatload of potential environmental problems depending on how you handle it. Me personally, I'd go rent a backhoe, dig it up, use the hoe to flatten it out while I had it there, and that be the end of it....WHAT TANK ?.......but that's just me.

    You could get into a long, protracted whizzing contest and might even win......or you might simply open a big can of worms compliments of your State EPA bunch.
     
  5. DenverGirlie

    DenverGirlie Well-Known Member

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    I know nothing about tanks but I would say to get someone out there that can tell you what it is..... does it seem to be hooked up to something? If you can find out what it is, then ask around and see if it's been filled in that last 16 years..... if it has... bamm .... seller did not disclose and you have a leg to stand on for costs of removal, any legal clean up,etc or you can try to make the seller buy the property back.
     
  6. MaryNY

    MaryNY Well-Known Member

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    Get a lawyer/law firm that handles BOTH real estate and environmental issues!

    Also be aware that removal etc. could involve having to remove top soil and sub soil to remove whatever the state doesn't like having there, etc. etc. etc. and then refilling it with some other dirt, etc. Big hassle!

    Good luck!

    MaryNY
     
  7. Pouncer

    Pouncer Well-Known Member

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    Well if the prior home owners upgraded their heating system within that time frame, then yes you could argue that they HAD to know about it.

    The agent's errors and omissions insurance won't cover this because the seller didn't disclose. If there are other things wrong, then you need to find a RE attorney asap.

    And, here's the rub: You do NOT want your local equivalent of the EPA on your property. One *tiny* leak over the space of just a few days can end up costing tens of thousands of dollars to remove-not to mention ongoing monitoring of water tables, etc. Best to pour sand down the pipes, then pull them. Or dig up, lime, sand, and rebury. Oh and by yourself, don't hire it done.
     
  8. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    Is the seller well healed? He may already have breezed through half or more of your money and has nothing to sue for. Lawyer gets paid whatever and you are stuck dealing with state epa who arent too concerned who pays, but they are definitely going after landowner of record. Now if you have title insurance they will pay upto purchase price, but local epa may require things far beyond worth of the property.

    I'm with the others, rent a backhoe, remove tank yourself, fill hole, scrap the tank. You might want to privately test any well on the property for contamination just for your own health. If anybody ever does investigate such as it contaminating neighbors well, then previous owner must have had it done or it was done years ago before enviromental laws were in place. Its probably an old fuel oil tank. I dont think they buried propane/butane tanks that far north though I have seen some locally here in ozarks. There probably is little if any leakage unless it was repeated refilled and used while leaking. It is very expensive to have this removed officially.
     
  9. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    WHY DIDNT YOU KNOW IT WAS THERE? You didnt why do you think he did? Do you know what was in it? Or is this just buyers remorse? If you clean it up your self just be sure to dig up all the dirt with any fuel smell and send it to the dump.
     
  10. Bear

    Bear Well-Known Member

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    Chripes almightly, how in the he$$ was I to know it was there?! This guy attempted to cover things up by hiding everything! The outside pipe sticks above the ground about 8 inches, has a lid on it with a lock with stuff on top of it to hide it. What really tipped me off was when I was moving junk around inside the shed and found the hand crank pump mounted on a pipe going through the floor of the shed. Further looking revealed a key on a large white tag saying "key for lock to underground gasoline tank". Don't tell me this guy did't know it was there, espically after owning the place for 16 years!! I have no idea how big this gasoline tank is, or if there is any fuel in it. I'm just ----ed off at people shafting innocent people and all the trouble this SOB is now causing me, and no, tis is not buyers REMORSE!
     
  11. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If it's a gasoline tank, and it's pretty obvious the guy covered it up, then I'd get a real estate attorney if I thought there was any possibility of getting my money back so I could go get a new property.

    Before doing that, though, if you really love the property, get the well tested to make sure that it's okay. If it is, then follow the above advice and remove the tank yourself being VERY careful not to let anything leak (if there's something in it). Then quietly dispose of it.

    It really stinks that the other person was so devious. How absolutely frustrating and maddening!

    Good luck to you in getting this resolved!

    Pony!
     
  12. poorboy

    poorboy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Would tell you to take a stick and measure the level of liquid in the tank. Would it be to much of a burden to use the hand pump to find out what kind of liquid? Ascertain what exactly you have there before you go off half cocked..:)
     
  13. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The epa types have made this such a big deal - everyone would rather just sss than deal with the problem. The govt types have lost all connection with reality & $$$$ and what one can do.......

    How long do you want to battle with the previous owner, & do they have anything to battle over?

    Do you want the epa involved & crawling over your property for the next 10 years?

    Do you want to be rid of the tank on the quiet?


    There is a _lot_ to think over here.

    All for a tank with perhaps 1/2 gallon of gas in it?

    --->Paul
     
  14. Rockin'B

    Rockin'B Well-Known Member

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    There are a boatload of EPA regulations concerning underground storage tanks for fuels that have come about over the last 10 or so years. If they leak, EPA will hunt down those who ever had that property while the tank was there and hold liable.

    I'm in the business and can vouch for their veracity. I've seen it many times.

    If it were me, I'd be talking with a dang good attorney.
     
  15. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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    ummm, why not just dig it up, and get rid of it? why get your panties in such a bunch?

    No one needs to know anything. Dig it up, empty it, burn the contents at night, torch the tank into pieces, and scrap it.
     
  16. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    or... fill it up and use it???
     
  17. RedTartan

    RedTartan Icelandic Sheep Supporter

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    What's the big deal? I had a 500 gallon oil tank in my basement when we bought this house in June. I replaced the furnace last month and got rid of the tank (half-full BTW) at the same time.

    People tried to scare me with $5000 removal fees... Bah! This is the country! My trash disposal company emptied it and took it away for free. He was excited about the money he was going to get for the scrap. He took the old furnaces away for free too.

    It doesn't have to be a big deal.

    RedTartan
     
  18. unioncreek

    unioncreek Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Usually when you buy property you inherit the underground tank regardless is the previous owner knew about the problem or not. A friend of mine bought a small farm that had above ground tanks on it. The inspector he hired didn't say anything about them or did the bank. someone called the local ecology department and they came out to check it out. The tanks had leaked over time and they told him he was responsible since he owned the property even though the problem existed prior to him buying it. I would rent a backhoe and dig it up make sure it's empty, scrap it and fill the hole.

    Bobg
     
  19. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    personally i would fill it when the price of gas was low but you would have to make sure it was not leaking, so maybe some kind of a pressure test or something could be done.
     
  20. The Paw

    The Paw Well-Known Member

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    I know this response isn't going to be popular, but here it goes anyway....

    1. Consider the possibility that EPA guidelines exist for a reason, and that ignoring and disposing of this thing on the sly can not only damage the natural world that homesteaders presumably value, but can jepoardize the health of others in the community. I know you got sandbagged, but I think you still have a moral obligation to deal with this responsibly.

    2. If the "higher duty" argument doesn't grab you, consider the potential fallout if you get caught disposing of it illegally. Right now, you can go to EPA and they will at least sympathize with your position, and may even assist in going after the seller for remediation. If they catch wind of it after you deal with it "unofficially", then you are the one in their sights... State authorities often have databases of things like this based on past history, fuel company records, etc. so they may end up finding out no matter how dark a night you choose to cut the corner.

    I would encourage you to follow your first instinct. Consult a lawyer. It sounds like you have a real good chance to prove the seller had knowledge of the tank. Whether you push for site remediation or to nullify the purchase will depend on the site evaluation, which is another reason to involve the authorities.

    Good luck,