We purchased our home 10 years ago, and at the time the furnace and utilities were gas equipped. We are now in the process of selling our property and a question has been raised with respect to the potential of a buried oil tank on the property from a former heating system. The would-be purchasers have requested we provide a certificate of removal, however we have absolutely no knowledge of when or even if there was an oil tank or if it was removed when the system was changed over. What are our rights and obligations with respect to this issue?
The quick answer to this question is simply this: You have no knowledge of any prior buried oil tank on the property and the purchaser needs to proceed based upon that declaration. If you have prior knowledge, you are under a positive obligation to divulge that information to the prospective purchaser. If they are able to prove that you had this knowledge and did not share it with them, they may have a claim for damages under the cause of latent defects. So, if for example, you had talked to your neighbours about the old oil heating system, you would be wise to divulge the information (new neighbours talk to each other also).
You need to tread carefully with respect to this and any other problems that your home may have when you are selling it. Problems can follow you from your old home, even after you no longer own it.