Buying a property with an oil tank explained

An oil storage tank serves as a container for holding oil, typically for heating purposes in domestic settings.

Understanding the tank type and pipework arrangement is crucial. Tanks can be categorised based on their location and use, such as surface, aboveground, or underground tanks. The choice of materials depends on various factors including intended use, environmental conditions, safety concerns, location, and legal regulations.

Installation of the oil storage tank should be conducted by individuals or companies registered with a ‘competent person’ scheme to ensure compliance with building control regulations. Upon completion, a Building Regulations compliance certificate should be issued, confirming adherence to the current standards.

Non-compliance with Building Regulations can lead to prosecution and fines for the installer, and property owners may be held accountable for rectifying any faulty work at their expense.

Although domestic oil spills are infrequent, home insurance policies should ideally cover potential spillages, including investigation and cleanup costs. However, it’s important to review policy terms, as coverage may vary and may not always include environmental cleanup expenses.

When purchasing a property, it’s crucial to thoroughly evaluate the age and condition of the oil tank. Older tanks are more susceptible to leaks and structural issues, which can result in costly repairs or environmental harm. Corrosion and rust weaken the tank, compromising its integrity and raising the risk of leaks. Factors like cold weather and sun exposure can further impact tanks, leading to condensation and potential damage.

Inspecting the tank before finalising the property purchase can pre-empt future maintenance expenses. Older tanks may not meet current safety standards, posing legal and insurance complications. By carefully assessing the tank’s age and condition, buyers can make informed decisions regarding long-term maintenance needs and associated costs. This ensures their investment’s security while mitigating risks related to an ageing or deteriorating oil tank.

Things To Remember

If you are looking for a new house, and the property contains an existing oil tank, you must consider its current condition, how long ago it was installed, the cost to run and maintain it, and how well it complies with local regulations.

Storing oil at your home or business: Overview – GOV.UK (

This article is intended for guidance only and does not constitute legal advice – 2024

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Caroline Polder
Caroline Polder