Kitec plumbing is a type of pipe that is vulnerable to premature failure, and REALTORS® should be aware of this product, which may damage a home and result in costly repairs.
The existence of Kitec plumbing can also expose REALTORS® to liability, since salespeople are required to take reasonable steps to discover and disclose material facts about a property, according to the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO).
Kitec plumbing was commonly used in homes built between 1995 and 2007, and otherwise for general plumbing repairs or renovations. The Kitec system was sold under a number of different brand names and in a variety of colours, and it consists of pipes and fittings. In 2005, it was recalled because the pipes and fittings were found to have a tendency to corrode quickly and can fail entirely, which can lead to flooding.
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“Not all real estate salespeople across the province will have encountered this type of plumbing before, but it’s important for them to be aware that it’s out there so they can be prepared,” says Cassandra Agnew Walker, senior manager, standard forms at the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA). “Because our members have obligations to consumers, Kitec should be on their radar in case they encounter it over the course of listing and selling.”
“Members should be asking the questions and disclosing that information so it’s there on the table and so that all parties to a transaction are aware and informed of the existence of this product,” says Agnew Walker.
“The repair of Kitec can cost from a few thousand dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars,” she adds. “The bill to remove and repair this plumbing can be substantial, and it can also lead to insurance or mortgage issues. This should not necessarily be considered minor matter.”
A class action lawsuit was initiated in 2011 against IPEX Inc., the manufacturer of Kitec. Funds are set aside to enable for claimants to possibly recoup some money to help cover the cost of repairs and remediation of Kitec plumbing if needed. REALTORS® and consumers may wish to speak to a lawyer about this type of claim.
"The bill to remove and repair this plumbing can be substantial."
The OREA standard forms committee has added a question about Kitec to two OREA standard forms: The Seller Property Information Statement (SPIS) Form #220, and the Residential Information Checklist, Form #820. The added question asks whether there is Kitec on the property. Two new OREA standard clauses were also added in 2016, and members are encouraged to review them. If Kitec does exist at a property, one of the new clauses contains text that a buyer acknowledges that a property has Kitec. If a buyer expresses concern about the existence of Kitec, the other new clause contains text that the seller has not installed Kitec. The forms and clauses mentioned here can be found on the OREA website at www.orea.com in the members’ section under “standard forms”.
Lou Radomsky, a Toronto lawyer and outside counsel to OREA’s standard forms committee, recalls an encounter with Kitec plumbing. “I was representing a buyer on a condominium purchase and the status certificate identified Kitec plumbing that would have to be replaced,” he says.
“My concern on behalf of my buyer client was whether this was going to be a charge through to her, how much it would cost to repair and whether she would want to go through with the purchase. In that instance, the condominium corporation had already allocated money in its reserve fund for that, and after some discussion with my client, she decided to proceed with that purchase.”
“However, people should be aware that repairing Kitec can be a very expensive undertaking,” adds Radomsky. “Not only do you have to replace the pipes but you also have to get access to them, which can mean knocking down the walls and then repairing them after replacing the pipes.”
RECO has posted and published information on the topic of “Kitec Plumbing and registrants’ obligations around material facts.” The RECO articles reiterate that this type of product “can damage a home and result in costly repairs for the home owner. RECO encourages registrants to find out how to identify Kitec and seek expert assistance from a home inspector or plumber when necessary. Such a flaw can be considered a material fact.”
If you wish to learn more about Kitec, several articles about Kitec plumbing have been produced by RECO:
Kitec Plumbing and Material Facts
More information on Kitec Plumbing
REM Online magazine has published an article on Kitec by Toronto REALTOR® Richard Silver titled “Is Kitec the new UFFI?”
In addition, Carson Dunlop Home Inspection Services has published an article, “The story of Kitec plumbing”, on its website.
Story by Mary Ann Gratton
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