Who actually owns this 1,000 gallon propane tank?

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On Thu, 26 Sep 2013 23:56:06 +0000 (UTC), Alex Gunderson

You can be pretty sure that you don't own it. From the scenario you describe, probably No 1 owns it since they bought #2.
Your opinion does not matter. You cannot prove it was abandoned and unless you have a bill of sale that the previous owner of the house owned the tank, you did not buy it. On top of all that, propane companies are notoriously sleazy when it comes to filling tanks if it is not their tank. Some state laws may possibly come into play too, at least they do here in CT. If a propane company does not own the tank they are not allowed to fill it.
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On Thu, 26 Sep 2013 23:35:42 -0400, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Belatedly, I'm coming to that very same realization.
In fact, it seems that the current company might even be able to charge me back rent for the tank.
The rent is about $15/month, so that would amount to hundreds of dollars (for a tank that's only worth about $1 per gallon).

All the companies out here in California will fill only two types of tanks:
1. Theirs 2. Yours
So, I called the propane company, anonymously, and asked how much it would cost to have a new tank put in that I pay for.
If I buy the tank from them for roughly $1/gallon of capacity, they will deliver it and strap it down and put in the three regulators.
It's my responsibility to put in the reinforced concrete pad, tie-down attachment points, 12" trench, yellow conduit, & two stainless steel risers.
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Are you unhappy with the present company? Why discuss all the work to change tanks, if the existing tank is in acceptable shape?
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
On 9/27/2013 8:07 AM, Alex Gunderson wrote:

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On Friday, September 27, 2013 8:41:20 AM UTC-4, Stormin Mormon wrote:

Stormin, that's what inquiring minds want to know..... I'm confused here too. I asked why he was so concerned, what the current issue was and he said:
"Because I want to line up my ducks. Just in case they come to me, I don't want to say something stupid. I just want to know where I stand, legally. "
Then later he laid out his intention to buy a new tank, pour a new pad, etc and put it in. If it were me, I'd just continue to use the existing tank. And if I could find the previous owner, I'd contact them and ask who owned the tank.
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Thanks, good attention to detail. Line up the ducks, so he doesn't get quacked over the head with some issue later? Then he might really be ducked up, with a huge tank to duck around with.
<ducks and runs>
. Christopher A. Young Learn about "behold, I come quackly!" Jesus www.lds.org .
On 9/27/2013 8:56 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

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On 9/27/2013 7:07 AM, Stormin Mormon wrote:

i think the OP wants it in a different place. the propane company won't want to do that for free.
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On Fri, 27 Sep 2013 08:14:50 -0700, chaniarts wrote:

If it comes down to a new tank, we'd have to follow current regulations, and the current tank location wouldn't meet the new regulations for distance from structures.
But, I shouldn't have brought that up because the "real" question is who owns the tank at this very moment.
I will try to contact the manufacturer of the tank when I get home to ask them if they can trace the serial number to an original owner.
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On Fri, 27 Sep 2013 10:07:26 -0400, Stormin Mormon wrote:

Well, bear in mind that the cost for the tank is less than the cost to fill the tank just once, so, it's not so odd that I'm trying to scope out my options.
I'm pretty convinced, by now, that the tank was not bought by me - but - I'm not sure whether the original owner has forfeited his rights to the tank, by sheer length of abandonment laws.
I'm kind of stumped at this point, because I called the county planning office who said they knew of no registration of propane tank serial numbers with them.
So, I'm actually back to the original question of who owns the tank - only the details have changed.
Either I own the tank because the original owner abandoned it; or, the original owner owns the tank because they originally owned that tank.
I guess I should move that question to a legal group?
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On Friday, September 27, 2013 3:24:01 PM UTC-4, Alex Gunderson wrote:

Let's recap. You bought the property with a propane tank attached to it. The sales contract says nothing about who owns the tank. You believed at the time that you bought it with the house. You called up the low cost propane supplier and prior to starting filling service, they came out, inspected the tank, and asked you who owned it. You told them you did and signed an affidavit to that effect. That is what you believed at the time.
Now let's pause for a moment. The company actually inspected the tank prior to filling it the first time. They didn't say it was another company's tank. Also, the tank apparently has no company name on it, which some other folks here I believe have said is unusual for a leased tank. I would think so too.
A few years go by. Some tech from the gas company one day tells you that he thinks it's owned by company X, which apparently was the supplier to the previous owner? That company has now been bought by your current supplier. So, if the tank was company X's, it's now the property of your current supplier. The big assumption here is that the tech is right. He could just be talking out his ass. And how does he now know it belonged to company X, when previously the gas company inspected it, asked who owned it, and didn't have a problem when you said you did? Was this tech there some time after the company was bought out? If so, then maybe he referenced a database of serial #'s that now includes company X's tanks, so now it's listed as that company's tank.
But at the end of the day, why do you care? You have a free tank and you've done nothing wrong. If some day your company claims they own the tank, so what? Your position is that you believed it was the property of the owner at the time of sale. That is the truth. If they have a claim for back rental fees, as I see it, it's against the FORMER OWNER. He presumably signed the lease agreement for the tank, not you. You tell the gas company that and to go after him. Even if they go after you, so what? There is a statute of limitations for bringing such a claim. I just checked and for CA for a debt claim, it's 4 years. So, the most they could get is $120 a year times four years, $480. Less if the lease rates were lower in those years.
So, BFD, they may have a claim against the former owner for $480. If they persist in trying to collect from you, offer them $300 to BUY the tank at that point. Or let them take you to court over $480. I doubt they would do it, and IMO, it's unlikely they would win. Even if they take the previous owner to court, who IMO, is more likely responsible, I don't think they would collect more than $100 or so. Why? Because they could have come at any time to pick up the tank after he stopped paying for it. They didn't do that. So maybe a court would give them 6 months worth of rental fees. And the previous owner is likely going to claim he called them up to terminate service, told them the house was sold, etc and he's probably got an excellent case that it's THEIR screw up, not his. The former owner would have to have been pretty dumb to not tell them he's done with their service, because you would be running up a bill in his name.
In short, I think you're hell bent on spending $1500 or more to buy a new tank, when you have no real problem at this point. And at most, you have a POTENTIAL, small problem in the future. What's better? Starting a whole mess and paying $1500 - $2000 for a new tank today or taking the chance that someday you might have to pay $500? More likely if they haven't caught it or done anything by now, you'll pay zero.
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On Fri, 27 Sep 2013 13:20:34 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Wow. You're good!

Yup. Exactly.

Yup. AFAIK.

When he said it, I questioned it, saying I owned the tank. He said the serial numbers matched as did the address, but that he'd check. I haven't heard back from him (but that was only yesterday).

The implication was that it's the same address and serial number of a tank that is in the database of the company that owned the tank originally.
Presumably the first company merged databases with the second company? If it's all true, then it would be rather easy (since the address and serial numbers would match.)

Good question. I don't care IF. If they don't try any funny stuff, it won't matter to me. But, what if they try to say I can't go to a 2nd supplier for propane? What if they decide to charge me forward rent? Or back rent? (I doubt they'd do that though).

Once they claim ownership, then when I go to a second company for propane, I can't legally sign an affidavit stating I believe I own the tank.
So, it matters greatly who owns that tank at this moment in time!

I would agree with that (but I'm not a lawyer); it sounds reasonable.

I just checked and I've had that tank for only 4.5 years. If they decide to charge back rent (which I doubt they would), it looks like I'm in the free period now at least! :)

This is true. All they needed to do was disconnect the pipes with a wrench and bring a truck to haul it away. They might have to pay me for the fuel inside, but, other than that, they "could" have physically taken it. (I'm not sure if there are legal rules against trespassing to take back your property though.)
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On Friday, September 27, 2013 6:44:49 PM UTC-4, Alex Gunderson wrote:

That's an important point that hasn't been made clear until now. You told us that a tech from your gas company, while connecting a new grill or something told you that it was Company X's tank. You didn't tell us he matched the serial number and address to a DATABASE. And since he works for the company that bought Company X, and looked it up in their database, then it's very likely that he's correct. The way you originally stated it, there was no indication what his opinion was based on.

Since the tech was just there yesterday and the company was bought some time ago, that's apparently what happened.

I doubt they would do that either. A possible defense is the abandoned property defense. You could check out the laws on that, but I'll bet it gets complicated, especially in the Peoples Republic of CA. They like to protect the rights of urchants and hippies, so I wouldn't be surprised that they have all kind of rules and procedures about what you must do. And if left abandoned, it might become property of the state, not you. Maybe Jerry Brown owns it now.

Yes, I agree it would matter if that time ever comes. But a few hours ago, it appeared you were ready to go shell out $2000 for a new tank now.
Since the tech who told you about the ownership was there yesterday, I'd say if you don't hear from them in a couple months, it's unlikely anything is going to happen.

It's the first 1/2 year which has now rolled past the limit. But again, since their contract was with the previous owner, I don't see them having a legitimate claim for anything against you. If they come after you and claim the tank is theirs and if you figure out you don't have a strong abandoned property defense, then offer them $200 or $300, negotiate to buy the tank, if you want to own it.

The first step before any of that would have been to notify you that they wanted their tank back.
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On Fri, 27 Sep 2013 16:38:27 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

the company now knows it's their tank so it would be impossible for them to back-charge any rent (not that they would anyway), a this point. Do nothing. <...>
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On Fri, 27 Sep 2013 16:38:27 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I'm sorry for not being explicit with the details.
To be clear, I called them out to inspect the BBQ setup, and they scheduled the inspection about two weeks ago for two days ago.
The guy who came out *already* had the serial number on his sheet of paper. So, he knew beforehand the serial number and the address (which makes sense since it's always been the same for this company).
That he matched that to the other company database is my guess; but it would seem to be easy to match up the static address with the just as static serial number.
He told me the tank was owned by them.
When I looked surprised, I noticed he looked at his sheet, and then he walked over to the tank and looked at the serial number on the tank.
He then made a notation on the sheet that he needed to check things out because I said I owned it and he had already said that I didn't.
I haven't heard back from him yet though ... (and at this point, I hope I never do!). :)
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On Sat, 28 Sep 2013 03:19:31 +0000 (UTC), Alex Gunderson

This look suspicious.
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How about I come out and steal it, and that ends the thread?
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
On 9/27/2013 3:24 PM, Alex Gunderson wrote:

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--
America is at that awkward stage. It's too late
to work within the system, but too early to shoot
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About three o'clock on wednesday work for you?
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
On 9/28/2013 10:18 AM, Kurt Ullman wrote:

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wrote:

No, the insurance company will refuse to pay because an unlicensed (non-union) plumber disconnected it.
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On Sat, 28 Sep 2013 10:18:53 -0400, Kurt Ullman wrote:

Actually, I could use a new propane tank, so, Stormin steals it, and the OP gets the money from the insurance company, and I buy it from Stormin (at a reduced cost, of course).
Win:Win:Win
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On 9/30/2013 1:16 AM, Danny D. wrote:

. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
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