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  • Writer's pictureKaefer Garcia

NJ Real Estate: Underground Oil Tank, Now What?

Updated: Apr 4

For many years, the people of New Jersey used oil to heat their homes. Unclean and inefficient, natural gas has become a much better heat source. Unfortunately, when people changed fuel sources, they didn't remove these oil tanks properly or just simply abandoned them. In many cases, the current property owners have no idea the oil tanks are still present. These underground storage tanks (UST) may seem harmless enough. However, they can become a real headache for a new property owner.

The Seller's Disclosure of UST

When these USTs are still buried on the property, the seller is supposed to disclose the information in the seller's disclosure. Many times the current owner has no idea about their removal. When the sellers are aware of the oil tanks, they likely only know what they were told by previous owners. Even when the tanks have been removed, they have not always been removed according to state regulations. Failure to have the tanks removed properly can result in leaks and environmental pollution.

Tank Yankers

This was the nickname given to companies that claimed to properly remove the tanks but failed to actually do so, leaving behind leaking pipes and often abandoning the tanks wherever they could. The EPA tested the sites of some of these tank removals. They discovered these tanks to have high levels of petroleum and other hazardous chemicals contaminating the soil and groundwater.

Oil Tank Sweep/Inspection

You can easily detect underground oil tanks when you can see oil lines in the vents or foundation. Though not conclusive, these are definite indicators that the tanks were present at some time.

Have an oil tank sweep or inspection performed so you can make sure that you won't have any surprise expenses later on. The use of metal detectors and ground-penetrating radar guarantees that results are conclusive.

New Owners

New Jersey regulations require the removal of tanks and any existing environmental pollution. It is always a good idea to make sure of the coverage of all of your bases. Better to err on the side of caution and be entirely sure that you won't be stuck paying an unplanned expense. This is one reason why speaking with a real estate attorney is so important. They will be able to tell you about ways you can protect yourself from unforeseen expenses.

The Difference an Attorney Makes

A New Jersey real estate attorney has experience handling UST situations and other common and uncommon occurrences that can have a big impact on your real estate purchase or sale. Consulting with an attorney before a real estate purchase or sale can potentially save you a great deal of money down the road. Your attorney can help you determine if a further investigation should be conducted to determine if a UST is still located on the property. They can also advise you who to call to schedule a tank detection and inspection.

Paying the Bill

The detection, inspection, and clean-up may involve a high cost. Your New Jersey real estate attorney can negotiate the cost of the process the previous owners paid or you can arrange for the division of the costs. Whichever option works for you, either option would be better than you footing the whole bill for pollution cleaning that you were not even aware of at the time of the sale.

Consulting with a New Jersey real estate attorney is the best way to ensure your investment is protected. An attorney that has experience dealing with UST situations will ensure fewer surprise expenses after you have purchased the property. Do let these issues blindside you. Let's help you handle them quickly and efficiently before the real estate closing. Contact us today.

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