After searching high and low, at last you have found the perfect property! Perhaps it’s an old heritage house with multiple units and it is great for investment; or, it is a charming home on a tree lined street, all newly renovated and is perfect for a new young family. One of the most important things you need to know about the property is…Does it have an oil tank?
Any home built prior to 1962 could have a tank! The owners may have changed many times since the home was initially built so the current owners may or may not know about an oil tank. The British Columbia Fire Code governs the removal of abandoned underground oil tanks. The B.C. Fire Code and Environmental Management Act require not only the removal of the out-of-use oil tank but an environmental assessment on the surrounding immediate area for soil contamination and other damage. The rules on this vary by municipality, so check with your municipality to see what is required in your area.
In the province of British Columbia, all oil tanks must be removed (and remediation done if required) at the expense of the owner/seller at the time of a Real Estate Purchase/Sale. In fact, any tank that has been out of use for a period of two years or greater should be removed. So how can you find out if there is one?
In Vancouver, you can call the Fire Prevention Office at (604) 873-7593, and ask the Fire Inspector to check the City records, to see if a tank removal permit was taken out. As well, a further check can be made to see if a letter from a contractor was submitted to the City, indicating that no tank was found on site. I recommend to my clients to find out for themselves and hire a professional to do a scan of the property. This one little step could save you from a very large headache in the future. If a tank is found a reputable tank removal company will be able to assist in the process of removing the tank, filing reports and acquiring permits with the city and environmental regulators.
Here are some Tips for Buyers and Sellers regarding Oil Tanks:
1. Make sure you have a good team that is knowledgeable and can help protect you with safeguards. For more on this check out Lets Make a Deal – The property purchasing process.
2. When buying an older home it is always advisable to get a professional to do a property inspection. They may be able to help identify areas where the oil tank was/is located. See more on that topic.
3. If the home was built pre-1962, make sure the “oil tank” clauses are written in your purchasing contract and pay for a professional to scan the property, prior to the subject removal date.
4. As a buyer, you want disclosures to be made about the property (and if an oil tank exists or not) included as part of The Contract of Purchase and Sale.
1. If you are a selling a property with a tank, have it removed before listing your property for sale! This will remove all of the questions and Red Flags a potential buyer may have regarding the issue and will give the buyer piece of mind knowing it is gone. Think like a buyer. They are likely going to purchase a property with the least amount of hassle.
2. If you do have a tank and are selling your property, make sure you do disclose this information up front. This will save you from a big legal hassle later that could cost more!