EWS1 Requirement for flats

New guidance on EWS1 from April 2021

From April 5th 2021 new recommendations of fire safety test requirements will come in to effect.  It is expected to remove up to 500,000 properties from the EWS1 requirement and free up the property to be mortgaged.  

Some buildings that were not on the original list are however included, such as buildings with any height with high pressure laminate (HPL) as needing an EWS1 now, but many are removed.  It is also endorsed that a valid building control certificate under building regulations can supersede an EWS1 for buildings 18 metres or higher from 5th April 2021. 

However, it is important to remember this is only guidance and mortgage lenders will still have the right to make a risk based decision to lend or not on a particular building.  

Material affected:

-high pressure laminate (HPL)

-curtain wall glazing

-timber

-metal composite material (MCM)

-aluminium composite material (ACM)

A guide for consumer to be published in the near future.

Further information can be found here : https://www.mortgagesolutions.co.uk/news/2021/03/08/rics-updates-ews1-cladding-guidance-to-unlock-the-market/

EWS certificate was designed to bolster lender concerns about lending to high rise buildings of 18 metres (above 6 storeys) or more that may contain high fire risk external cladding.  Specially any metal composite cladding with unmodified polyethylene fillers.  Lender fears about fire risk including other types of external cladding, not just Aluminium composite material (ACM) , the type that was found at Grenfell Tower has lead to many homeowners in multiple occupancy buildings not being able to remortgage or sell their property. 

This was exacerbated by the general guidance by the Government, extending the  need for fire safety assessment to all types of property included those less than 6 storeys.  The Guidance in January 2020 states that, all building owners will have the responsibility to ensure all buildings with multiple occupancy does not have combustible material in the external structure including balconies.  We at Axess Financial Services found many clients caught on in this net, even those that do not have external cladding. 

Last month came some respite.  On November 21st to be exact, Government issued the general guidance that EWS form is no longer required for buildings with no cladding.  

The EWS is not statutory, but the lenders are still insisting on it as a commercial decision.  A new form of the certificate will be  introduced, the EWS2, for property below 6 storeys.  As the inspection does not involve high level of resources, it is something that will help some homeowners.  

Next battle for leaseholders on high rise flats would be who is responsible for the cost of repair.  Watch this space.