Principle Estate Management has welcomed a major UK government intervention that means leaseholders “trapped” in flats due to the cladding crisis could soon be able to sell or remortgage their properties.
The comments from the leading estate manager come in the wake of advice from an independent expert group that has found that homes in blocks of flats up to 18 metres don’t need an extra safety form.
The concerns over the safety of cladding were raised after the 2017 fire at Grenfell tower in which 72 people died.
But a government-commissioned review by experts has found there was “no evidence of systemic risk of fire in blocks of flats”, citing evidence suggesting only 9 per cent of blazes were in blocks of flats of four storeys or more.
This has led to housing secretary Robert Jenrick announcing five recommendations to stop what he called the “disproportionate reaction” of lenders to the cladding crisis.
A key recommendation is that an EWS1 form, which assesses the safety of external cladding, should not be a requirement on buildings below 18 metres.
Andrew Winstanley, the property operations manager at Principle, welcomed the news and said: “This paves the way for EWS1 forms to no longer be required for buildings below 18 metres and will help further unlock the housing market.This intervention will hopefully reduce the needless and costly remediation in lower rise buildings and restore market confidence allowing flat owners to buy, sell or re-mortgage their homes. It’s excellent news that a group of major high street lenders has already committed to review their practices following the new advice. The fact that major lenders such as HSBC UK, Barclays, Lloyds and others have said they are supportive of this position will be a great relief for leaseholders who until now have felt trapped in their homes.”
Others have welcomed the government’s guidance.
Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley, said: “After years of fumbling its response to the tragic fire at Grenfell, confusing vulnerable leaseholders with overly-complicated legislation, the Government has finally made the right decision to scrap EWS1 forms for ‘at risk’ buildings below 18 metres. However, thousands of leaseholders and other mortgage prisoners have paid the costs to secure an EWS1 certification. The question now is who will compensate them, and of course, what is to be done about those living in buildings 18 metres or higher. There simply isn’t enough testing capacity in this country to check the safety of building materials and the government seems reluctant to stump up the necessary cash to fix dangerous towers. We need to see urgent, decisive action from the government. Flatowners cannot be left to shoulder the financial burden of remediation works.”
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