The EWS1 form was introduced in December 2019 as a way to reassure mortgage lenders that buildings over 18m were safe, but it has proved problematic.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and other stakeholders introduced the EWS process in December 2019. The process involves a fire safety assessment by a suitably qualified professional who completes the EWS1 form.
However, the implementation of the EWS process has brought other problems to the fore.
Mortgage Applications Rejected
EWS1 forms were initially intended to be used only for buildings above 18m, but, following the Government publishing updated Advice Notes on 20th January 2020, mortgage lenders began to insist on them for buildings under 18m as well. Surveyors acting for lenders took the view that flats in blocks without an EWS1 certificate had a value of £0, or significantly less than the asking price. An increasing number of mortgage applications were declined, and sales began to fall through.
In November 2020, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced new guidelines relating to the use of EWS1 forms, including funding of almost £700,000 to train more assessors. These new guidelines have formed part of the RICS Valuation Consultation; however, UK Finance and the Building Societies Association have stated that lenders require clear support from the Government, which includes written confirmation from MHCLG or their expert panel that the proposed guidance is consistent with the January 2020 and November 2020 Advice Notes.
Latest RICS Guidance
March 2021 saw the publication of the latest RICS Guidance on the valuation of residential buildings with cladding and the provision of clearer criteria, including case studies, for circumstances when an EWS1 form is deemed as being required.
More information on EWS1
A fairer, faster process is needed to replace EWS and funding is necessary to ensure all buildings that require a form are surveyed within 12 months.
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