Is new home owner responsible for old propane bill?

August 17, 2011 22:49 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:  

I recently purchased a home in Albany, Georgia, which was foreclosed upon several months ago.  It is serviced by a propane gas company that is saying that since the previous owner did not pay for the gas in the tank, it is now my responsibility some four months later. The home was purchased as is. Do I have to pay for the gas?

Consumer Ed says: 

It depends.  You need to determine who owns your propane tank and whether there are any agreements or contracts regarding the tank.  Typically the propane company maintains ownership of and liability for the propane tank, unless the property owner has chosen to purchase the tank outright.

Ask the company for a copy of the agreement regarding the service of the tank, a record of the amount of propane that was in the tank when you purchased the home, and the billing and payment history for the gas. If the gas was not paid for and if you have been using the gas as the new homeowner, then chances are the bill is your responsibility. If the gas was not paid for, and if it was used by the previous homeowner prior to your purchasing the property, the bill would be for arrears (or past due amount) that the previous owner should be responsible for.   For future reference, have details like this one made a part of closing documents.

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Testing for Radon

July 15, 2011 01:18 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

I saw an advertisement for radon testing. Do I need to have my home tested? How can I be sure that the person I hire to test and/or remedy any problem is reputable?

Consumer Ed says: 

For the answer to this question, we went to the Department of Community Affairs. Here is their response:

Yes, your home should be tested. Many people do not realize how dangerous and prevalent radon is. The facts are that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., after tobacco smoking, the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and kills more than 22,000 people each year. Radon is an odorless, tasteless, invisible radioactive gas released by the natural decay of uranium in our soils and rocks. Outdoors, radon does not pose a threat because it is quickly diluted by the atmosphere. However, if radon seeps into your home from the soil beneath it, the gas can reach hazardous levels.

Although high radon levels are more common in northern Georgia and the metro Atlanta area, all homes in Georgia should be tested. You can do this easily and inexpensively by getting a home test kit. If the test results indicate a high radon level, you can have professional testing done to see if you need to install a mitigation system to reduce the radon level.

To ensure that the radon professional you hire is qualified, we strongly advise consumers to use testers and mitigators who are certified by one of the two national radon training organizations. You can visit their websites to find certified professionals in your area:

   •    National Environmental Health Association - www.radongas.org
   •    National Radon Safety Board - www.nrsb.org

To learn more about radon and to order a home test kit, visit the UGA Radon Education Program website at www.ugaradon.com or call Ginger Bennett at 770-535-8290.

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Mortgage Company Delaying Re-Financing

November 19, 2010 17:40 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

Can I do anything to force my mortgage company to complete the refinance we started? I think my mortgage company is trying to avoid closing on the Streamlined VA Refi because they don't make enough money on these types of  loans. They have been delaying for over 3 months. Lost paper work, same VA papers filled out over and over, and excuses for not setting a closing date. Is this legal?

Consumer Ed says:

For the answer to this question, we went to the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance. Here is their response...

I am sorry that you are experiencing difficulties with re-financing your home mortgage, but you are not alone.  In the current lending environment many lenders are having difficulties in dealing with the massive amounts of paperwork they are receiving relating to re-financing and modification requests.  We suggest that you communicate with your lender in writing and send them the documents via certified mail with return receipt requested.  Feel free to talk with your lender by phone, but always follow up in writing!  Since you are seeking a VA loan, you may want to contact The Veterans Administration's Consumer Affairs Service for assistance at (202) 273-5760 or via the web at www.va.gov.  If your lender is a national bank, its primary regulator is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).  The OCC has a Customer Assistance Group that has a complaint process that might also be a helpful resource for you.  The OCC can be reached at (800) 613-6743. For their online complaint process, go to www.occ.treas.gov.  Continue your efforts to follow up with your lender on a regular basis and provide information as requested as quickly as possible.  Good luck.

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