Building safety and EWS1 FAQs

We know many of you will have many questions about the safety of your buildings. Please read our FAQs below and if you still have any questions contact your housing officer or PMO via MyAccount.

Building safety FAQs

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 safety in your home page.

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.

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 all of the funding we apply for.

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.

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 Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The surveys can involve samples being taken of the external wall system, such as cladding, so its performance in fire can be examined.

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. 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.

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 Notting Hill Genesis. We will, however, produce a summary of the findings to share with residents and keep you informed of the next steps.

This is dependent on the level of remediation required and any negotiations that are required with developers.

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.

If you need any more information, please speak to your building safety manager if you have one, who will have written to you to introduce themselves, or contact 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.

EWS1 FAQs

The EWS1 (External Wall System) survey is a form designed to be used for residential properties (e.g., blocks of flats) as a means for building owners to confirm to lenders that an external wall system has been assessed by a suitable expert as compliant or if any works are required to meet fire safety standards.

The external wall system is the materials that make up the outside wall of a building. This includes (but is not limited to), blockwork, a form of insultation and either cladding, render or brick-faced covering on the outermost layer.

Guidance from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) specifies that an EWS1 form should be requested for all buildings over 18m or seven storeys tall, or if the building is more than four storeys tall and includes certain types of material on the external wall or balconies. Further information on this can be found on RICS website.

Generally speaking, each storey of a building will be approximately 2.7meters. So, a four-storey building will be approximately 11 meters tall.

If a more accurate measurement is required, then Notting Hill Genesis will instruct a specialist surveying firm who will measure the distance from ground level to floor level of the highest storey using lasers, in line with fire safety guidance.

Not every lender will necessarily require an EWS1 form, as they are not a legal requirement. However, if your building meets the criteria set out above, then it is likely that your lender will require a favourable EWS1 form to provide financing for a property.

A lender should always have a rationale to justify their request for an EWS1 form. This should include why they believe that your building meets the criteria set out in the guidance published by RICS in April 2021, as mentioned above.

If your building does not meet the criteria, then you can write to the lender confirming this. We are here to support you with this process by confirming details about a building where needed.

We have obtained EWS1 forms for most of our buildings. Please contact your property management officer (PMO) who will be able to assist you.

Typically, EWS1s are required by a lender. However, if you are selling your home, then you may also be asked to provide an EWS1 by the estate agent, conveyancing solicitor or the purchasers themselves.

If you believe that your building meets the criteria set by RICS detailed above and want to speak to someone about getting an EWS1 for your building, please contact your PMO.

EWS1 surveys can only be arranged by the freeholder of the building. If you believe an EWS1 is required for your building based on the RICS criteria set out above and you are unsure who should provide the EWS1 for your building, please contact your PMO.

We don’t allow residents to carry out or instruct their own appointed contractor to carry out an EWS1 survey on their buildings. An EWS1 survey can only be arranged by the freeholder or managing agent acting on the freeholder’s behalf.

The EWS1 form is provided for the whole building, so individual flats cannot get their own individual EWS1 forms.

We are not recharging residents for the costs of EWS1 surveys or the provision of the EWS1 forms.

Currently, our engineers will attend site approximately 3-4 weeks after receiving an EWS1 request. Following the survey of the building, it then takes a further 3-4 weeks for the report and form to be produced.

Please be aware that although we intend to carry out an EWS1 survey within these timeframes, there may be instances where this process can take slightly longer than anticipated (such as if demand on our engineers increases). We will always endeavour to provide you with a realistic timeframe when a request is made.

If you believe that your building requires an EWS1 based on the RICS criteria set out above, please contact your PMO in the first instance, and they will raise the necessary EWS1 request via our building safety team.

In instances where we are not the freeholder of your building, you will need to speak to your PMO, who will put you in touch with the freeholder or managing agent of your building.

An EWS1 form is valid for up to five years from the date that it is signed. However, this will need to be reassessed should there be any significant changes to the external wall or attachments to the building. If there are remedial works to the external wall system of a building, a new form needs to be issued once the work has been completed.

Not necessarily. There are different ratings for EWS1 forms and although your building may have been issued an EWS1 form, if the rating is unfavourable, then there might be remedial works required to your building to ensure that it is safe. The different ratings of EWS1 forms are discussed in further detail below.

The EWS1 survey may identify no inherent risks associated with the external wall, but the fire engineer may recommend further works to ensure that the building complies with current or future building regulations. However, this is rare and, with the introduction of the PAS 9980 (further details below), this is unlikely to occur.

A1 (favourable) – There are no attachments [such as balconies] whose construction includes significant quantities of combustible materials

A2 (favourable) – There is an appropriate risk assessment of the attachments [such as balconies] confirming that no remedial works are required

A3 (unfavourable) – Where neither of the above two options apply, there may be potential costs of remedial works to attachments [such as balconies]

B1 (favourable) – The engineer’s view is that the fire risk is sufficiently low that no remedial works are required

B2 (unfavourable) – The engineer’s view is that an adequate standard of safety is not achieved, and the building requires remedial and interim measures

The Publicly Available Specification (PAS 9980), developed by the British Standards Institute is a methodology for assessing fire safety in residential blocks that was launched in January 2022. It is intended to provide a holistic analysis of every element that can impact the risk of the spread of fire in residential blocks.

The PAS 9980 is intended to allow building owners to take a proportionate approach where necessary works are identified, but, where possible, manage risks without the requirement for disruptive and expensive works.

The PAS 9980 is a more detailed survey than the EWS1 and the results are subject to peer review before a final determination and report is completed.

The PAS 9980 is not intended as an alternative to the EWS1 form. RICS have aligned PAS 9980 with the EWS1, meaning that a positive PAS 9980 outcome should lead to the provision of a favourable EWS1 form.

Should you have any further questions or concerns, please contact your PMO to discuss further.

Information for leaseholders

Since their introduction late last year, mortgage lenders have been asking for a certificate of compliance, known as an EWS1 form, Since the introduction of EWS1 forms, mortgage lenders have been asking for them in certain instances, to provide 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 know 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.

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.

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.

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 prioritised buildings over 18m.

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.

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. Decisions will be made and communicated as specific schemes move through our programme and require these temporary measures.

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.

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 (PMO).

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.