Real Estate

Be on the lookout for Kitec plumbing

By Rob Lamberti, AdvocateDaily.com Contributor

When selling a home built between 1997 and 2005, lawyers should include a statutory declaration that the vendor has no knowledge that Kitec plumbing is present, says Toronto real estate lawyer Sarita Samaroo-Tsaktsiris.

The Ontario Real Estate Association adopted a standard clause last year to be included as a warranty from the vendor that Kitec plumbing — to the best of their knowledge and belief — wasn't used in the home, Samaroo-Tsaktsiris tells AdvocateDaily.com.

"If I could make recommendations to lawyers, it's to start putting in the statutory declarations that vendors have to sign," Samaroo-Tsaktsiris says.

"Kitec is not an issue to take lightly," says the principal of SST Law Professional Corporation. "It can be a faulty product, and is vulnerable to corrosion."

The usually orange and blue flexible, plastic-coated aluminum water pipes were initially marketed as being a corrosive resistant and financially viable replacement for copper. It was recalled because the pipes and fittings had a tendency to corrode quickly and fail entirely, causing flooding.

They were recalled in 2005 and a cross-border $125-million U.S. class-action suit was settled, allowing for claims to be made for costly replacement. Copper pipes — the very item that Kitec was to replace — is considered the best solution.

"It became a live issue last year," says Samaroo-Tsaktsiris, “but not many people are aware of it when they're buying a home built between 1997 and 2005."

In the past, vermiculite insulation and urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) were among the issues that required disclosure for homebuyers. The focus is now on Kitec, which has been described as "the new UFFI," she says.

"The material can become corrosive and it's very costly to fix the problem. There are pipes and fittings and you have to go behind the drywall to fix it and then replace the drywall," Samaroo-Tsaktsiris says.

"It could lead to flooding if not replaced," she says.

And for condos with Kitec, a special levy is added to the regular monthly maintenance fees, says Samaroo-Tsaktsiris.

She says it cost one of her clients $6,000 to replace Kitec pipes last year because they waived their right to have the Status Certificate reviewed by a solicitor, due to competing offers.

"It's a nuisance more than anything else, but buyers should be prepared and they should ask their realtor about it. That’s why I always stress the value of a home inspection," she says. "Many people forgo inspections, be it a condo or a home."

A home inspector would normally check for the pipes, among other things, and ask the right questions, Samaroo-Tsaktsiris says.

"There are standard clauses a realtor can include in the agreement of purchase and sale," she says.

Buyers could be out of pocket if they discover Kitec but failed to ensure it was mentioned in the document.

"Ultimately, the issue would be that the realtor should have placed the representation and warranty into the agreement of sale if the property was constructed in that time period," Samaroo-Tsaktsiris says.

Realtors and sellers can be held liable if there is a lack of disclosure, she says.

"The prudent thing to do is to ensure the warranty clauses are included in the agreement of purchase and sale. And when purchasing a condo, you should ensure that the Status Certificate is reviewed thoroughly by a lawyer for any indication of replacement of the piping," Samaroo-Tsaktsiris says.

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