New support for flat owners caught in ‘EWS1’ process

Toby Weiss

Toby Weiss

Content Marketing Manager at Reapit

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Owners of flats without cladding will no longer need an EWS1 form to sell or re-mortgage the property, following an agreement reached on 21 November between the government and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), UK Finance and the Building Societies Association (BSA).

Under the agreement buildings without cladding are not subject to EWS1, with up to 450,000 households set to benefit. The government has announced nearly £700,000 in funding will be provided to train 2,000 additional build assessors to expedite valuations; they further announced that they would be working with the industry to ensure professional indemnity insurance is available for assessors.

The agreement forms part of wider government-led efforts to introduce new regulations to support homeowners occupying buildings with unsafe cladding following the Grenfell fire in 2017.

While building owners are already legally required to undertake fire risk assessments on all blocks of flats, following supplementary guidance published by the government today, 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.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick 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.

I welcome the support we have received from RICS and industry to resolve this matter and will be working urgently with lenders to resolve these challenges, ensuring that EWS1 forms are requested only where absolutely necessary and that the number of surveyors able to complete them is increased urgently to meet demand.”

RICS CEO Sean Tompkins said:

“We are aware of the severe impact this has had on some homeowners and we agree that buildings without cladding should not be subject to the process. We will be taking forward work with industry on this.

Further, we recognise the acute market shortage of fire engineers to carry out EWS1 assessments and welcome the Government’s support on working with us to upskill other regulated professions, such as Chartered Building Surveyors, to create additional capacity in the market.”