Pottstown Home Inspector: Oil Tank Scam
In addition to being a Pottstown Home Inspector, I'm also a landlord in the Pottstown and Reading areas. I came across a little scam recently that has to do with oil tank gauges and I wanted to pass along this information to all the landlords and homebuyers out there.
Some of you might have read an earlier post I made It's no April Fool's Joke- Tenants moved! In this blog, I mentioned that our problematic tenants were finally moving... and it seemed too good to be true. When the tenant (we'll call him "Dan") told us he was moving on April 1st, we found it quite comical that he picked April Fool's Day for this special event and wondered what was in store for us.
It's a long story with this tenant and we can't possibly paint the complete picture in this one blog. Let's just say we were prepared to lose a few thousand dollars to evict him, but things got complicated with the courts and we found ourselves prisoner to this tenant for 4 years. When he told us he was leaving, we were ready to throw a celebration!
My wife had mentioned to Dan that he would get his security deposit back in full as long as he left the unit in good condition and filled the oil tank before moving out since it was full when he moved in. When we showed up for the move-out inspection on April 1st, he told us that the oil tank was just over 3/4 full and no company would deliver less than 100 gallons. We could see the unit looked to be in pretty good shape and we were so happy he was leaving that we told Dan we'd accept the oil tank as 3/4 full. What's the cost of 1/4 tank when we were prepared to lose a few month's rent to get rid of him? Not much!
Dan seemed very anxious about getting his security deposit on the spot, but we still had to confirm the final water bill and make sure the other utilities had been paid in full. We told him he'd get his security deposit mailed to him in a week or two.
Well, it turns out the oil tank wasn't 3/4 full afterall. It was empty! The oil gauge read just over 3/4 full, but we soon found out he had pulled a little known oil tank scam.
Our plumber was at the home unclogging the drain lines and we had him check the oil tank because we were thinking of moving it to expand the bathroom. Upon checking the tank, he went to remove the oil gauge and saw that someone had wired it! That's right- someone put a pin inside the gauge tube to hold the gauge up, giving a false reading. When the plumber unscrewed the gauge tube, the pin fell out and the gauge fell down to the actual level- empty!!! For final confirmation, he measured the oil in the tank at 6 inches. I guess they were playing an April Fool's joke on us afterall!
Needless to say, the security deposit wasn't returned to him. We'll be checking those oil gauges from now on!
David Artigliere with ARTI Home Inspections LLC is a ASHI Certified Home inspector in Pottstown, PA & surrounding areas. Visit his website at pottstownhomeinspector.com for more information or call (610) 220-1907.