Flats without cladding will no longer need EWS1 checks
Owners of flats in buildings without cladding will no longer need an EWS1 form to sell or re-mortgage their property the Government has announced.
Post-Grenfell the Government introduced rules requiring homes to undergo an external wall survey process – commonly referred to as ‘EWS1’.
This was initially developed to assess the potential financial impact of cladding on high-rise flats and to check walls and balconies were structurally sound. However, following a change in Government guidance at the start of the year, some lenders were requiring an EWS1 before allowing mortgages on all types of properties.
The restrictions had prevented some people – who were struggling to find qualified professionals to carry out the work, or whose freeholders refused to commission the work – from selling or moving home.
The Government has now been confirmed that buildings without cladding will not need to have the checks, after the Government came to an agreement with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), UK Finance and the Building Societies Association (BSA).
It is estimated that one third of residential buildings greater than 11m in height will no longer need to undergo an EWS1 before dwellings can be sold or re-mortgages.
Ministers say it says will clear the way for up to nearly 450,000 flat owners to sell, move or re-mortgage their homes.
It has also committed to training 2,000 more building assessors to speed up valuations and said it will work with the industry to ensure professional indemnity insurance is available for assessors.
The Government said the move is part of a wider government-led solution to support homeowners who have unsafe cladding on their buildings – some of whom are facing huge bills for removal or for fire wardens to monitor sites 24/7.
While building owners are already legally required to undertake fire risk assessments on all blocks of flats, following supplementary guidance published by the government, RICS will be working with lenders, valuers and fire safety bodies to develop new advice for surveyors.
This will enable surveyors to take a more proportionate approach and reduce the number of buildings where an EWS1 assessment is needed.
Making the announcement Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “Through no fault of their own, some flat-owners have been unable to sell or re-mortgage their homes – and this cannot be allowed to continue.
“That’s why the government has secured agreement that the EWS1 form will not be needed on buildings where there is no cladding; providing certainty for the almost 450,000 homeowners who may have felt stuck in limbo.
“However, this is only part of a wider solution and we continue to support those homeowners who do have cladding on their buildings and where there is still more to do.”
To read MHCLG’s estimates of EWS1 requirements on residential buildings in England click here.