Update on building safety

Over the last three years, ever since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017, government has been undertaking a review of fire and building safety and published a constantly evolving set of regulations and advice notes for landlords and building owners to follow.

As mentioned in our important message to homeowners, as the guidance evolves and has become more wide-ranging, some leaseholders are finding it challenging to sell their home, arrange a new mortgage or buy a greater share in their home. This is due to lenders requesting a certificate of compliance, known as an EWS1 form, before they will offer finance.

This is a national issue affecting all owners of private and public residential buildings and their leaseholders.

As a result of the most recent advice note, published on 20 January 2020, we will need to carry out investigations on the external wall system of our multi-storey and multi-occupied residential buildings. It also banned the use of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) on any building.

We are in the process of assessing all affected buildings, using qualified experts to understand whether buildings are compliant with the current regulations, considering factors such as height, the type of construction materials used and the evacuation strategy, among others.

The assessments will help us identify what work, if any, is required for the building to be fully compliant with regulations and able to receive an EWS1 form, as well as place buildings in order of priority.

For each building, the process will consist of:
• An initial desktop study to discover whether further investigation is needed
• If required, an intrusive survey, where expert contractors take a sample of the wall covering and how it is attached to the building
• Any necessary remedial work identified as a result of that survey.

We have prioritised the first group of buildings to undergo further investigation and intrusive surveys will take place over the next three to six months. It is likely most will require remedial work.

For buildings not among those prioritised, we are unable to provide a definitive timeframe of when surveys will be carried out. We will contact leaseholders when we know more about the timeframe for work at their building, but until then please keep an eye on our website and future editions of Connections for further details.

For buildings that do not have a signed EWS1 form, this does NOT mean that the building is unsafe. At present many lenders are not offering finance until a signed EWS1 form is provided. All buildings received sign-off from Building Control when initially built and have regular Fire Risk Assessments carried out.

Remember, if you are thinking of selling your home, remortgaging or staircasing, you must read our important message to homeowners and speak to us prior to making any financial commitment.