Introduction of EWS2 may bring some level of respite to low rise leasehold flat owners.
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.