EWS1 form & Cladding Confusion

Some of our Rotherhithe, Canada Water, Surrey Quays and Bermondsey residents have found themselves stuck in unsellable and potentially unsafe apartments due to delays on fire safety tests.

Particularly in the last few months we have come across some homeowners having trouble completing on the sales of their apartments due to cladding related issues.

Surely all of us can clearly remember the disastrous 2017 fire at London’s Grenfell Tower that caused seventy casualties and as many injuries.

Following the tragedy, the government announced a major safety programme to ensure residential buildings throughout the country are safe for habitation.

They immediately banned combustible materials in buildings over 18 meters – and a few months later in structures of any height – and also provided over one billion pounds to fund the removal of unsafe cladding from residential buildings.

Last December the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors as well as the UK Finance and Building Societies Association introduced a new process called External Wall Fire Review (EWS1) to establish whether a building contains potentially dangerous materials in order to offer clarity to mortgage lenders and in the meantime peace of mind to the homeowners.

And here it comes, the main issues are: affordability, time and lack of clarity.

Despite the one billion pound government funding sounding enormous, if you consider there are hundreds and hundreds of buildings that don’t comply with the recent fire safety regulations, these funds are definitely not enough to cover the work needed, so many homeowners throughout the country have found themselves in economic hardship due to the cost of replacing exterior building panels.

In addition to that, there are only a handful of experts in the sector that can establish whether a building is safe or not. Timing is the other determining factor.

Since, of course, high-rise buildings have been prioritised in terms of timescales, many homeowners living in low rise buildings are finding themselves in a limbo where they can not sell or remortgage their properties since they cannot have an EWS1 assessment taken for several months.

Finally the lack of clarity is something that many homeowners and property buyers are putting across. There aren’t fixed criteria that banks follow in assessing whether a property is mortgageable or not and in most cases landers give the final say to the single surveyor to judge.

Earlier this week we had a meeting with David Walsh (Director of Kite Mortgages –
kitemortgages.com), our independent financial broker, who underlined the fact that some surveyors would dismiss all blocks without an EWS1 form, even sometimes in regard to those blocks without any visible cladding, making the situation even trickier.

While in the past a good property consultant / mortgage broker could easily guide you through a number of lenders that would definitely deal with certain types of buildings, now it is very difficult to determine whether a particular bank would consider landing against a particular kind of building that contains any sort of cladding in it.

It is now more important than ever to seek advice from capable and informed mortgage brokers and property experts in order to face up the situation, avoiding unnecessary stress and get a better picture of the situation.

For more in depth conversation about the topic or if you are seeking advice in relation to the home or property you are wishing to purchase or sell please feel free to contact us – we would be more than happy to assist.