Many leaseholders who want to sell their home, remortgage or buy more shares may find that lenders request an EWS1 form, which was developed to demonstrate that buildings over 18 metres tall meet the latest guidelines. The form is produced after an assessment by a fire engineer assessing the likelihood of a fire spreading across the external wall or into the building.
We know our leaseholders have many questions about what could happen to any potential sale, the EWS1 process and potential interim measures requires at some buildings, such as 24-hour patrols or new alarm systems. Please read our FAQs below and if you still have any questions contact your property management officer.
What if I want to sell my home, remortgage or staircase?
Since their introduction late last year, mortgage lenders have been asking for a certificate of compliance, known as an EWS1 form, in certain instances as evidence that buildings comply with the latest fire safety standards. The form is issued by an approved fire engineer once they have carried out full intrusive surveys. Lenders and valuers use this form to help them decide whether to approve a loan. We are aware that this is having a significant impact on affected residents. We are doing all we can to progress our programme of having buildings surveyed and certified, but if you are considering selling your home, remortgaging or staircasing, please speak to us before making any financial commitment. For those who have already been affected, we will offer whatever support we can.
Could my sale or application for finance fall through?
Unfortunately, yes . In our experience sales in affected buildings of 18m or more are now very unlikely to achieve lending without an EWS1 form. While smaller buildings face fewer difficulties, some applications have still been declined. The response of lenders is evolving all the time and we recommend you speak to your lender about your building before making any application.
My building is over 18m. When will we receive an EWS1 form?
This is dependent on the findings of the intrusive survey. Where no or minimal remediation work is required, we have been able to produce EWS1 forms reasonably quickly. Where more complex remediation is needed the form would not be provided until that work is completed to the satisfaction of the fire engineers.
We can offer guidance on expected timeframes at each stage but this is a complex process that often requires us to engage with original developers or warranty providers. In these circumstances, it can take some time to negotiate a successful conclusion.
The order in which these initial surveys are carried out is based on priority, with factors such as height, construction material, type of cladding and existing fire mitigation measures being considered. We are currently investigating buildings of 18m and above where we believe there may be issues with the cladding.
All of our remaining buildings of 18m and above will be investigated in either late 2020/21 or the 2021/21 financial year.
My building is below 18m but my lender is asking for an EWS1 form. Is that right?
EWS1 forms were previously only required for buildings over 18m, but lenders have started to request them for shorter buildings. We would recommend that in the first instance you challenge the lender's rationale for requestig the form, stating that as your building is under 18m it should not require an EWS1 according to RICS guidance.
The instances where buildings below 18m may require an EWS1 form is where there are specific concerns, which includes 4-6 storey buildings with combustible materials.
We have a large number of buildings to review and have prioritised buildings over 18m. We are investigating alternative options that we hope will satisfy lenders on smaller buildings we do not expect to require remedial works.
If we believe an intrusive survey on a smaller building is required, there is likely to be a wait for that survey as our current programme is for buildings over 18m. Our programme of intrusive surveys on buildings under 18m is not due to begin until 2022/23.
Can I pay for an intrusive survey on my building rather than wait?
Regrettably, we cannot allow individual leaseholders or groups to carry out their own surveys. As the landlord, we retain this responsibility and where a survey identified remediation works, we will allocate the required resources for this work to take place. It is important we can oversee contractors surveying our buildings including their respective findings.
Will I have to pay for 24-hour patrols or new alarm systems?
We have determined that our general approach is not to recharge leaseholders for the installation of interim fire measures, such as 24-hour patrols or temporary fire alarms.
We expect that for majority of schemes which require these measures there will be no charges faced by leaseholders. Decisions will be made and communicated as specific schemes move through our programme and require these temporary measures.
What if I live in a building where NHG is not both the freeholder and the managing agent?
If we are not the freeholder we will work with landlords and managing agents to get the EWS1 form. Where we are the freeholder but there is a separate managing agent we will provide any support we can on issues like appointing contractors, fire guardians and compliance so they can gain an EWS1 form.
What can I do if I am unable to sell my home or obtain finance?
We can always consider transactions funded in cash, but of course recognise the vast majority of cases require a mortgage of some kind. Where you need to move but cannot sell your home we can also consider providing permission for you to sublet your home. If this would be of interest, please speak to your property management officer.
I'm still unhappy with this situation. What can I do?
This is a national issue that is affecting all building owners whether public or private. We are working closely with other housing associations to try and resolve these lender issues and together are in dialogue with government about the impact its latest guidance is having on residents. Ideally, we would like to see a transitional arrangement that supports normal lending while building requirements are met. We would urge you to contact your MP, ask them to raise this issue in Parliament and lobby for a solution that would allow residents and leaseholders to plan their future more securely and have greater peace of mind.
I am feeling stressed. What support is available?
Our leasehold team has prepared information on where residents can seek help if they are feeling stressed or anxious about this situation. Your property management officer can provide this.