Anna, Ohio

The former owners (husband & wife) of our home had contracted with a local propane company to install one of their underground propane tanks during the home's construction. The local propane company got the husband but not the wife to sign an easement, which: (a) declared that the underground propane tank belonged to the company, (b) that the propane company and its assigns had the right to enter upon the property at anytime to maintain said propane tank, and (c) that the easement would run with the land [meaning that it would burden all future owners of said property].

The local propane company then filed this "easement" with the county recorder's office. Then a few years later, Amerigas acquired the local propane company and added this underground tank to its list of assets and believed that this tank was their property.

A year later, the former owners put the property on the market and sold it without disclosing the fact that a 3rd party held an interest in the underground tank. Furthermore, the underground tank did not have any sticker or other label indicating that a 3rd party held an interest in it.

Generally under state law, a real estate buyer is presumed to know all 'recorded' facts about said property. In a normal situation, the 'easement' would have popped up on the title search and been presented to the buyer at closing. In a normal situation, the 'easement' would be cross indexed to the property by the names of both the husband and wife who signed it.

HOWEVER, In this situation, a legal easement against the property did not exist, because in a non-community property state, when both a husband and wife jointly own a property; they both must sign. And in this situation, the state in question holds that all 'attachments' [in this case - the underground propane tank] transfer to the buyer, absent contrary notice to the buyer. Therefore, in this situation, the asset on Amerigas's books did not legally belong to Amerigas -- because it was lost to the buyer (under state law) due to faulty paperwork on the part of the original local propane company.


Moral of the story: It would absolutely suck to get jacked into the ground with poor service and high rates -- wrongly believing that the underground tank is 'company owned'; and then have that tank leak and cause damage to property/lives only to then learn that the 'company' skirts out of any liability because due to some legal quirk, the homeowner is in legal fact the owner of the underground tank.

Product or Service Mentioned: Amerigas Gas Tank.

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Any Update on your situation NoRecordedEasement? i too have a tank, with nothing on my title insurance, or survey indicating an easment by Amerigas. There is a sticker on the inside that i went forward with, but after reading horror stories of ownership, i am questioning it as well!


Question for Amerigas Story writer...

Did Amerigas acknowledge anywhere in writing that they did not own the tank because of the unrecorded lien? If so, is that document available through public record (e.g.

court case).

Obviously in my case, they are claiming the opposite. Thanks.


Excellent post. Thanks.

With your apparent experience dealing in a legal issue such as this with Amerigas, hopefully you (or anyone else) can recommend a path.

Amerigas claims to own my tank, but I have reviewed this with several lawyers who disagree. There is no easement filed with the county recorder and nothing appeared on my title search nor was any paperwork disclosed when I bought our house. The tank was properly identified on my original survey. It is a permanently attached underground 1000 gallon tank. Since buying the house, it has at all times been my understanding that I own the tank. Amerigas has begun charging rental fees which I refuse to pay. They have put me in collections despite having no contract with me of any sort allowing such rental and I have incurred legal expenses as a result. They have ignored repeated certified letters from me and my attorney to justify their billing. A suit appears inevitable. Other than my title insurance, is there any other advice you (or anyone else) would offer?

As an additional comment, Amerigas uses their (fraudulent?) claim of ownership in the tank to prevent use of competing suppliers. Some other suppliers will only accept a bill of sale for the tank as proof of ownership and they will not accept the recorded real estate transaction despite its legal validity. I don't know if this is a form of collusion or simply caution, but it translates into a restraint of trade. In one delivery of propane alone, the difference in price can be in excess of $1000. Based on the number of people I know alone, I would suspect there is a large class of people in this situation. Any idea why a class action suit isn't already underway? I would venture a guess that the damages to the class are staggering. I'm sure proving the losses would be quite complicated, but would guess the punitive damages for the restraint of trade and the rental fees would be an easy slam dunk. Are there any class action lawyers out there?

As your post points out, since they really don't legally own these tanks, are they insured? I'm no longer using the tank, so this isn't an issue for me.

If Amerigas can get away with this, can someone else claim they installed my septic system and made an unrecorded deal with a previous owner whereby they still own it and I have to pay a rental fee? Maybe someone else owns my well and I have to rent that too.

I have already contacted the Attorney General's office and am in the process of filing a formal complaint.

Any advice is welcome. I am not a lawyer and if I am incorrect in any of the above, please tell me. Thanks.

Is this just a rogue branch office or is this how Amerigas does business?

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