A Victoria couple were ordered to pay more than $50,000 to the people they sold their property to almost four years ago after an underground oil storage tank (UST) was found despite an addendum in the contract stating they would remove any USTs from the property. (Black Press Media File Photo)

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

A Victoria pair has been ordered to pay $55,000 to the people who bought their home almost four years ago after an underground oil storage tank was found on the property

Christopher Warren and Antonia Warren were ordered by the B.C. Supreme Court to pay $44,774 in damages, plus $10,655 in litigation costs to William Walton and Nikolas Hill after the tank was removed from the Esquimalt property and the contaminated soil remediated.

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Walton and Hill bought the property in early 2016. They assert the Warrens breached the contract of purchase and sale by failing to remove the oil tank before the sale concluded.

Walton claimed their Realtor had warned them that many older homes in Victoria have buried oil tanks. Following her advice, they included an oil-tank addendum in the contract to protect them against any costs associated with removing it.

Two companies scanned the property for evidence of an underground oil storage tank and found none, and the contract was completed.

Two years later, the home’s basement flooded and required a new drain system. A contractor eventually discovered an underground oil storage tank on the property.

READ ALSO: Saanich aims to help homeowners dump their oil tanks for heat pumps

The plaintiffs paid $42,720 to remove the tank and remediate the soil. Walton and Hill were initially unable to pay the full sum on time and incurred carrying charges of $578.

Neither Christopher nor Antonia Warren claimed to have had any knowledge of a tank, and said they received a report stating there was none when they bought the property. A company scan also turned up no evidence.

“I accept that the defendants were surprised to learn of the underground oil storage tank on the property,” wrote Justice Heather MacNaughton in her reasons for judgment, which were posted online last week.

According to MacNaughton, the claim was not a complex one and revolved around the interpretation of the addendum. The Warrens argued it should be interpreted as only requiring them to remove and remediate any underground oil tank that was discovered prior to the contract’s completion date.

MacNaughton disagreed, stating the addendum was not “ambiguous” and required the defendants to remove “any” oil tank on the property.

“As an oil tank was discovered some years after the completion date, the defendants had not complied with the terms of the addendum on the completion date. They were in breach of the addendum,” she wrote.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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