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Government guidance regarding external wall systems means that in some instances banks and building societies are requesting an EWS1 forms from leaseholders and shared owners who are applying to staircase (buy a greater share of their property), re-mortgage or sell their property.
What is an EWS1 form and is it relevant to me?
This EWS1 form is a set way for a building owner to confirm to valuers and lenders that an external wall system or attachments, such as a balcony, on buildings containing flats has been assessed by a suitable expert. This is not a legal requirement and owners of blocks do not have to provide them. However some lenders are asking for EWS1 forms before they will consider offering a mortgage.
It is relevant to you if you own your home, or are a shared owner who wants to staircase (buy a greater share of your property), re-mortgage, or sell.
Why is this a problem for some people?
In July 2021, the government stated that EWS1 forms would not be needed for buildings under 18 metres although some lenders (banks and building societies) are continuing to request them.
They are required for buildings over 18 metres with cladding. The current RICS guidance is that an EWS1 is not required when:
Building over six storeys
- There is no cladding or curtain wall glazing on the building and
- if there are balconies where the balustrades and decking are constructed of combustible materials (e.g. timber), they are not stacked vertically above each other.
Buildings of five or six storeys
- There is not a significant amount of cladding on the building (for the purpose of this guidance, approximately one quarter of the surface façade is a significant amount) and
- there are no ACM or MCM panels on the building* and
- if there are balconies where the balustrades and decking are constructed with combustible materials (e.g. timber), they are not stacked vertically above each other.
Buildings of four storeys or fewer
- There are no ACM or MCM panels on the building*.
* Note: metal cladding and ACM/MCM are visually very similar, so if metal cladding is present, the valuer should either confirm with the building owner or managing agent in writing that they are not ACM/MCM, or an EWS1 inspection should be requested.
Some home owners have a property within blocks that Clarion does not own or have responsibility for the structure of the building. In these instances it is the responsibility of the freeholder or managing agent to obtain these assessments, and where necessary Clarion will liaise with them on your behalf in order to try and obtain the form.
What is Clarion doing to help?
We recognise that any delay in a mortgage application will be frustrating and we are doing all we can to support people affected. We will look to provide EWS1 forms wherever we can.
As government guidance has changed over time, the EWS1 assessment process may recommend additional remedial work to more Clarion buildings. If further work is required, Clarion will complete this, prioritising our taller buildings in accordance with risk profile.
If work is needed, will I be charged?
On the 10 January 2022, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) announced:
“No leaseholder living in a building above 11 metres will ever face any costs for fixing dangerous cladding and, working with Members of both Houses, we will pursue statutory protection for leaseholders and nothing will be off the table”. For leaseholders living in buildings below 11 metres, each building will be assessed on a ‘case by case basis’.
Further information from the government can be found here.
Clarion will be reviewing these proposals from government as they become law, scheduled for later in 2022.
Can I arrange my own EWS1 assessment?
No, the forms need to be completed by the building owner or person responsible for the structure of the building.
Will every lender require an EWS1 form?
No, each lender will have its own requirements.
If I am affected, who can I contact for further information?
If you have been asked by your lender to provide an EWS1 form, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.