We know many of you will have many questions about the safety of your buildings and we want to answer the most common of them. Please read our FAQs below and if you still have any questions contact your local officer.
Government announcement on EWS1 - November 2020
On 21 November the government announced that buildings without cladding on them no longer needed an EWS1 form. The intention is to provide clarity on these buildings and ensure mortgage lenders would start lending on them again without the need for an EWS1 form. The government announcement said this initiative had the backing of mortgage lenders but following the announcement, mortgage lenders have distanced themselves from it by saying they did not consent to being a signatory to the changes.
Without the full support of mortgage lenders any initiative like this is unlikely to translate into lending being unlocked on these buildings. It is also unclear how this affects other elements of building safety covered by the consolidated government advice note released in January 2020.
Mortgage lenders may still seek reassurances on the general construction of walls or balconies. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), also agreed the announcement but will also be reviewing the government guidance before issuing guidance to mortgage valuers.
This means that at the moment it is difficult for us to say how mortgage lenders are going to react to this and what information they may ask for on buildings without cladding. We will be monitoring the situation and will do everything we can to assist our residents with their remortgaging requests and sales.
Is my building safe?
We are committed to ensuring fire safety across all our buildings. Each building is regularly assessed by qualified experts via Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) to and we have a programme of continuous day-to-day safety and maintenance which is separate to our remedial work. Many of our buildings will require a certificate of compliance under government guidelines but the process of obtaining that does not mean the building is unsafe. Your building will have been signed off by Building Control at the time it was built and been subject to regular FRAs ever since. You can find advice on how to keep your building safe in our Fire Safety FAQs.
What fire safety measures are in place?
When we carry out intrusive surveys, guided by our fire safety team and fire engineers, we sometimes discover that buildings need additional mitigation measures in place until all remedial work is complete. These have included changes to evacuation strategies, the introduction for 24-hour patrols and the installation of temporary fire alarms.
Will you be applying for the government funding?
The current fund of £1bn is for the removal of non-ACM (Aluminium Composite Material) cladding from high-rise buildings, though the industry believes the cost of that work will far exceed that amount. The fund will not cover any safety issues beyond that.
We have been working closely with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) with regards to registering properties for the government's Building Safety Fund and are in the process of applying for a number of buildings we believe are eligible. This may allow us to get a grant equivalent to any increase in service charge that would otherwise be levied on leaseholders to pay for remediation works.
There are no guarantees that we will receive any of this funding and if none is available we will need to have further conversations with leaseholders about how remedial works will be paid for.
Which buildings are being investigated?
Our programme is currently focused on tall buildings of 18 metres or higher. The most recent government advice note, from January 2020, makes clear that all multi-storey and multi-occupiles residential blocks must be investigated regardless of height. This has hugely increased the number of buildings that will require investigation. We are reviewing the guidance to ensure our plans align with it, but for now only investigating our buildings over 18m.
What is an intrusive survey?
Intrusive surveys look at how the building was constructed, the materials used and whether fire safety standards are met. These surveys are carried out by specialist fire experts approved by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. The surveys can involve samples being taken of the external wall system, such as cladding, so its performance in fire can be examined.
When will my block have an intrusive survey?
We have categorised all our tall buildings, those 18m-plus, on factors such as height, construction material, types of cladding and fire mitigation measures and have undertaken surveys on a number of blocks . Other priority buildings will be looked at over the next two years but this is a national issue affecting all building owners and there is huge demand on a limited number of approved fire engineers qualified to carry out this expert work. This means if we haven’t already been in contact with you it is unlikely your building will be surveyed prior to 2021. It is difficult to predict when surveys will start on any particular building but we will keep residents informed as we progress through our programmes.
Will I receive a copy of the survey report and how will you keep us informed of the next steps?
The report is produced expressly for the use of Notting Hill Genesis. Disclosing this information could compromise our ability to pursue the original developer and would not be in the best interests or residents or NHG. We will, hpwever, produce a summary of the findings to share with residents and keep you informed of the next steps.
How long will it take for any required work to be completed?
This is dependent on the level of remediation required and any negotiations that are required with developers.
What are you doing to ensure you have contractors in place for surveys and remedial works?
We do have contractors to deliver these works at present but are also in the process of procuring a new multi-provider framework, which will ensure we have access to a higher number of suitably qualified contractors to fulfil our requirements to the highest possible standards, at scale and in a short a time as possible.
All contractors appointed to the framework will conduct investigations as well as plan and manage any required works to ensure they are delivered to a compliant standard, at a reasonable cost and that all work is documented. They will also prepare a building safety case, communicate with residents and produce the EWS1 form if required.
Who do I speak to if I have any questions relating to building safety and the survey?
If you need any more information, please speak to your housing officer or property management officer via My Account. They will be able to liaise with our building safety team to answer any questions or provide the most up-to-date information. If required, this will be escalated via the appropriate channels directing your query to the head of building safety.
It is always important to prevent fires in your home or building so please read our Fire Safety FAQs for more information.