bill tenant for oil?

14 Replies

They were good tenants and oil was strong 1/4 mabay 3/8 full when they moved in and let know the level verbally. They are moving out in 2 days and its very very low, well below the empty gauge. They turned the heat down to 55 degeees but I still think its going to run out in next few days. It does not clearly state in the lease about the oil, just tenant is responsible for it. They do not want to order more and its going to run out.

How would you handle this? Its about $260 worth not to mention if it runs out its more of a project.

Thanks

If it in the lease and they don't want to pay, take the 260 from the security deposit

Just says tenant is responsible for oil, but if its empty, I have to order some to protect my property from the pipes freezing if they wont. 

@Jimmy S.  charge them for the refill. If it's more than 50% empty they owe you that.

Also, it's about $5,000 - $6,000 to replace an oil heater with a natural gas heater. Consider upgrading before the next tenant moves in. It will make the unit more attractive to tenants, many of whom don't want the hassle that comes with oil heat. As a bonus, you'll never have this hassle again.

Fill the tank at your expense. You don't want to risk the oil running out with the furnace still on. Your documentation and expectations were not clear in the beginning, so accept this as a lesson learned. Also, they were good tenants... wish them well. Another option is to ask the tenant what they think would be fair and go with that.

Next time, measure the oil level at the beginning of tenancy and document it in writing. Clarify tenant responsibilities in the lease.  Do as the car rental companies do... fill the tank at the start of tenancy and require the tenant to return the unit with a full tank at the end of tenancy, or require them to pay for the difference if it is not filled.

Fill the tenant and charge them for the missing amount. Now on have the tank full with a clause that it must be returned in the same condition. 

I dip the tank and take a measurement when they sign the lease . I charge the tenant for the oil in the tank . When they leave , I dip the tank and measure it  and reimburse the tenant ( as long as they dont owe me money .   There is a chart available to convert the inches into gallons . 

since you had nothing spelled out in the lease , its on your dime 

Originally posted by @Elizabeth Colegrove:

Fill the tenant and charge them for the missing amount. Now on have the tank full with a clause that it must be returned in the same condition. 

 Seriously?  They'll take him to court, and here at least, I guarantee they would win.

He doesn't even know how much oil was there when they moved in, but it was no more than 3/8ths of a tank.  There is no way you can charge them for a fill.

He should have documented how much was there, and addressed it in a lease addendum. He didn't, its on him.

I agree with @Marcia Maynard  Your lease is not clear enough. A couple hundred bucks is definitely not enough to quibble over, or worse, fight over in court. Make your lease tighter, learn and move on...

Originally posted by @Richard C. :
Originally posted by @Elizabeth Colegrove:

Fill the tenant and charge them for the missing amount. Now on have the tank full with a clause that it must be returned in the same condition. 

 Seriously?  They'll take him to court, and here at least, I guarantee they would win.

He doesn't even know how much oil was there when they moved in, but it was no more than 3/8ths of a tank.  There is no way you can charge them for a fill.

He should have documented how much was there, and addressed it in a lease addendum. He didn't, its on him.

 Sorry there was a misunderstanding. I would only charge him for what is missing. 

Than - I would fill the tank to 100% full with receipt. I would put a clause in my lease that said you have to fill it up to 100% with receipt. Just like a car rental company does ;)

@Jimmy S.   

       First order is to fill the tank. You need to protect the property. You can sort everything else out later. 

      If I were the tenant I would return it with a 1/4 of a tank or at least make good on the cost for that amount. Since it's so close to empty I would pay a 1/4 of the bill.  With that being said .........

As a landlord I would......

.........Discuss it with them asking what they believe to be fair. Listening to their view of the events. They may be saying to themselves...... There is no way we are filling this tank and giving it to him. A full tank how dare him he only gave us a 1/4 when we moved in......... I would clarify that I don't expect them to pay for a full tank just a 1/4 as it was when they arrived.

In the end it's not worth the time you will have to invest in fighting with them over this. So have a short conversation, if they don't agree there is not much recourse.

Moving forward I would start every tenant with a clearly documented measure of the tank with both your and their initials. I would also add a line to the lease that they are responsible to return the oil tank to the level at which it was at when they initially leased the property. 

Remember to always be fair, consistent and respectful. Even when you want to scream, shake your fist and pull your hair out. 

I would not fight over it but would be nice if they would pay for it. They asked out much was in the tank when they moved in and I told them a strong 1/4. I would like the 1/4 back plus the $35 fee now to have it delivered and the $40 fee for letting it run empty for the prime and restart. Really common sense must I specify not to drain it dry and run it empty. Its not good for the house if you have no heat or hotwater and its drops into the 20 or 30s at night. Ya its only for 1 or 2 days but you could have ordered $150 worth 1 week and not had this...

The oil company won't come out for the 1/8 of the tank they owe and they don't want to fill it because that is money they don't think they can count on getting back. If you both agree that they oil was 1/4 or 1/8 tank I would just charge them for that amount.

Minimum delivery is 50 gallons which is almost 1/8th. 

What if they wont agree to reimburse me should I still charge them for it? I will order it myself to make sure it gets ordered.

Fill the tank 100% charge the tenant for the 1/4 tank as it is the lower of the 2 amounts you think it was. If they don't pay take it out of the security deposit. 

Tighten your lease going forward adding the additional charges for service if you have to arrange it for tenants in the future as @Jimmy S.  suggested. Document the level in the tank at lease signing (should be full) and I would also go with the rental car system. Tank must be at or above the level you moved in with (if it was not full).

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