It's official: no cladding, no EWS1 needed!
There was good news for leaseholders in buildings without cladding last week, as the Government announced they will no longer need an EWS1 form to sell or re-mortgage their property. This should bring some much-needed pre-Christmas cheer to an estimated 450,000-plus flat owners if they wish to sell, or re-mortgage their homes.
Thanks to an agreement reached between government, the RICS, UK Finance and the Building Societies Association (BSA) there should now be some certainty for leaseholders who have effectively been stuck in limbo, that they will be able to move.
In fact, the EWS1 form, originally intended to be used by valuers to assess the potential financial impact of cladding on high-rise flats, should never have been applied to unclad buildings. Unfortunately the form was rapidly picked up by nervous lenders and applied wholesale across the whole market. Now, we hope, this should change.
Of course this move is very welcome but it offers no comfort to flat owners living in blocks that do have cladding. So we are pleased to hear there is now work going on to try and improve their situation too.
An acute shortage of fire engineers to carry out fire risk assessments on at-risk buildings has been a major problem to-date. So the government has come up with funding to the tune of £700,000 to train more assessors. This should speed up the valuation process for homeowners in cases where an EWS1 form is required. Training will be delivered by RICS from January and will mean up to 2000 additional assessors will be qualified in the next six months. Lack of availability of professional indemnity insurance for assessors has also log-jammed the system and this too is being looked into.
Work is also going on to develop a portal where lenders, valuers and leaseholders will be able to find out if their building already has an existing EWS1, which will reduce the demand for duplicate forms.
Finally, progress. All this will take time but at last the Government has understood where the problems lie; it now recognises the need for action. And that’s the Christmas present that thousands of flat owners really need.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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