We’re starting off the new year by checking in on what’s new with the HRF (Homeowner Reimbursement Fund) for 2022, 2023, and beyond.
For starters, the actual name of this program is the Residential Heating Oil Tank System Site Rehabilitation Reimbursement Program.
Yes, it’s the good ol’ R.H.O.T.S.S.R.R.P. Seriously, leave it to state bureaucrats to give something so simple such a long name.
What it lacks in a quick, clever name (we’re sticking with Homeowner Reimbursement Fund, or HRF), it makes up for in being a helpful program for homeowners.
How helpful? If you have a leaking residential oil tank, underground or aboveground, the MDE HRF will reimburse you some (not all) of the costs you will have for removing the tank and remediation of contaminated soil.
If you’d like to know more about the specific rules, you’re welcome to visit the MDE’s website and look for the rules and instructions on your own. To get there, though, you’ll have to wade through pages and pages of technical stuff.
Your friends at GreenTRAX are here to make your life easier. Today we’re breaking down the new HRF rules in simple terms.
How The Homeowner Reimbursement Fund Used To Work
So what does the HRF do? The story has changed a bit from the olden days when it used to reimburse residential property owners for all of their out-of-pocket costs for leaking heating oil tank removal and contaminated soil remediation and cleanup costs.
Prior to 2014, you used to get your money back from the state in less than nine months, and almost always less than a year. Then in 2014, the state made changes to the program and the backlog started to grow. From that point, it was taking two, three, and even four years or more to get your money back.
Still, you eventually got all your money back for 100% of your costs associated with the removal and cleanup of contaminated soil and restoring your property, less a $500 deductible.
Fast forward to 2022 and the Maryland Department of the Environment and the State Legislature have decided to change this program again. So what are the new rules?
New Changes To The Homeowner Reimbursement Fund For 2022 & 2023
Enforcement of the new rules took effect October 1, 2022. Homeowners will now be reimbursed a portion of the cost of the tank removal and a portion of the eligible costs related to remediation & cleanup of contaminated soil and MDE required tests.
The state has decided the way to stretch their dollars further is to reimburse residential property owners a percentage based on the tax assessed value of the property.
If your property has a higher tax value, you will get less money back. Here are some qualifications for the program:
- The property must be a residential property – commercial properties do not qualify.
- The property must be owned by a person(s), estate, or trust. If property owned by a company or corporation, it does not qualify. *(single member LLCs may though)
- The tank must be a heating oil tank. (Those properties that may have an old buried gasoline tank do not qualify.)
- The reimbursement application must be submitted within six months of contaminated soil remediation work being completed onsite.
- The work must be performed by a licensed MDE tank remover – i.e. GreenTRAX, Inc.
- The buried tank must be removed. If it is abandoned in place (legally), it does not qualify.
- Installation of new oil tanks or HVAC systems are NOT a reimbursable expense.
- “Other” onsite activities such as landscaping restoration, asphalt & concrete repairs, yard restoration, patio restoration, etc. will NOT be reimbursable expenses.
- In the new rules the MDE has also made some activities (that most, if not all, tank removal contractors charge for) NOT eligible for reimbursement.
The greatest change that affects everyone took effect October 1, 2022. It says that the homeowner applying for reimbursement will only get a percentage of money back that they have spent. What’s more, the total money you are eligible for is capped based on that percentage.
How does this affect you? Let’s take a look at some examples below:
- If the tax value of your property is less than $300,000, you are eligible for 100% reimbursement of ELIGIBLE costs up to $20,000, less a $500 deductible.
- If the tax value of your property is less between $300,000 – $600,000, you are eligible for 50% reimbursement of ELIGIBLE costs up to $10,000, less a $500 deductible.
- If the tax value of your property is over $600,000, you are only eligible for 25% reimbursement of ELIGIBLE costs, up to $5,000 ,less a $500 deductible.
Basically, the more your property is worth, the less money you will get back.
While some of this seems complicated, you don’t have to handle it by yourself. When you work with GreenTRAX, Inc., we will handle it all for you. We are on top of all the new rules and regulations, so we are best placed to advise you on this program.
What To Do If You Have A Leaking Oil Tank In Maryland
If you have a leaking tank, it’s not a great situation. What’s important to know is that the company removing the tank and cleaning up the contaminated soil didn’t cause the leak.
Age caused the leak. The tank should have been removed 10, 20, or 25 years ago. By delaying the removal, age and deterioration caused the leak.
From there, it’s important to remove the tank. If you are in the process of selling your house, this is work that needs to be done. The Maryland Department of the Environment requires the work to be completed.
That process is going to involve some heavy equipment (and no, we don’t offer helicopter service).
That means you’ll have to prepare yourself in order to remove the oil tank and the contaminated soil. If the tank is leaking, we have to dig out contaminated soil, so you should expect a certain level of disturbance and understand the fact that you may need to hire a landscaper when the work is complete.
Of course, if you are not a person who cares about the appearance of their lawn (not everyone does) you may not be as motivated. What’s important to know is that yard restoration is no longer a reimbursable expense.
Beyond that, there may be some disturbance to the yard, landscaping, driveway, and/or patio, depending on where the tank is located.
Let GreenTRAX Remove Your Heating Oil Tank
The best thing to do is let the professionals at GreenTRAX, Inc. walk you through this and help you with your oil tank removal project. We have been in the tank industry for over 25 years and we are the residential tank removal experts.
To get started, just give us a call at (410) 439-1085, or send us a message through our site.