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EWS1 explained

Published: 05/10/2020

Thousands of flats could be un-mortgageable for many years to come after the Grenfell Tower fire in Notting Hill in 2017. As property sales chains break and agents turn away approximately a third of owners who want to sell, it is imperative to have an EWS1 certificate to prove that your apartment block is safe.

Accordingly, the government has tightened the safety advice for apartments, and without this external wall survey, you cannot get a loan, as banks are not prepared to lend.

What is an EWS1?

In December 2019, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the lender bodies UK Finance, and Building Societies Association created the EWS1 form to unblock the market. It standardises fire-safety checks for buildings taller than 18 metres (six storeys) and is valid across all apartments in a block for five years.

Lenders now insist that buildings must provide the purchaser with the certified assurance that cladding of any sort has been checked and approved by a qualified surveyor. This can often be a lengthy and costly exercise as we understand the number of people qualified to carry out the assessment is limited. There are currently only 291 fire engineers who can make these intrusive checks.

To sign the form, an expert must check that cladding, insulation, balconies, and wall structures comply. It requires cutting holes to look inside walls and testing samples of materials in a laboratory. If flammable materials are found, they can stay only if the exact combination passes a test in which a three-storey model wall is set on fire.

Where do I get an EWS1?

Only the buildings landlord (the freeholder) can commission an EWS1, or if the block is run by leaseholders, the residents' management company or right-to-manage company.

Can the landlord be forced to get one?

As a leaseholder, you have limited rights to force the landlord to carry out cladding remediation, and no right to require him to carry out an EWS1 survey.

Who can do the façade checks?


Experts who are registered with the Institute of Fire Engineers (RICS) and who have public liability insurance.

How much does it cost?


As a rule of thumb, £2,500 for a low-rise block with one type of cladding to £25,000 for a 24-storey block with 200 flats.  

Who is responsible for this cost?

Under almost all leases, the leaseholder pays for the survey costs and repairs. You can contact LEASE, the government’s leasehold advice agency to see whether your lease makes you liable. However, most leaseholders who have challenged cladding costs have found they must pay.

Can I get government assistance?  


The government has set aside £1.6 billion to fix unsafe flats, but it covers only flammable cladding and insulation in blocks above 18 metres.  

Should the builder pay?
 
 If the building is less than six years old, one may take action under the Defective Premises Act 1972.

What else can I do?

Set up a private Facebook leaseholders’ group and drop leaflets through doors. Start a steering group to share the workload.
Start a Twitter account for your building to campaign publicly.

Comment

Accordingly, we are urging all owners, residents, associations, and managing agents to address the situation and take the necessary actions.

They need to be able to:

  • Provide residents with assurances so that they feel safe in the knowledge that they are not in a building with dangerous cladding
  • Ensure that owners looking to sell their property will be able to provide the necessary documentation to their buyers

If you would like further advice, please contact one of our sales team on 020 3137 7877 or email, and they’ll be happy to help.






Disclaimer *The above information is for guidance purposes only and should not be treated as a statement of fact.





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