What is an EWS1 form?
The External Wall System form (EWS1) is a compliance document, providing a summary of an independent report, that checks whether buildings over 18m meet recent government advice about external wall construction of residential apartment buildings.
Lenders and valuers may request an EWS1 form showing the external wall system has been checked by an independent competent person (in some instances this may be a Chartered Fire Engineer) and has been constructed in accordance with Building Regulation.
As the EWS1 form is a summary of a fire engineer (or accredited professional) investigation report. Lenders and valuers use the information given, alongside other factors, to help them decide whether to approve a loan.
On Saturday 21 November 2020, the government announced that owners of flats in buildings without cladding will no longer need an EWS1 form to sell or re-mortgage their property. This is in an agreement reached with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), UK Finance and the Building Societies Association (BSA).
Why can’t you provide a certified EWS1 form for my building?
We know and understand the importance of this form, especially for our customers who are looking to sell their property.
The process of completing the EWS1 form requires specialised professionals who are in short supply. Not only this but it also often requires intrusive investigations of the wall itself to confirm details. This means the process takes some time to complete for each building.
We’re working at pace to complete complex and intrusive inspections of our priority buildings. Like many landlords, we’ll make sure the investigation survey programme is completed as quickly as possible. This will enable us to put a programme of remedial works in place, where needed, to make sure our buildings are compliant.
In some cases, we’re not the freeholder of the building or have responsibility for the structure. In these instances, we’ll work with the responsible landlord and managing agent to help them obtain the confirmation of compliance.
What does this mean for me?
Some lenders will continue to lend on properties in blocks over 18m high and those that require fire safety works without an EWS1 form.
We understand that, at the moment, some of you are unable to get an EWS1 form, and this is preventing you from selling your home. This may also cause delays for those of you coming to the end of their current mortgage arrangement, wanting to secure a new deal with your lenders or sell your home.
We understand how frustrating this can be. This new requirement is affecting not just Catalyst, but all housing associations and building owners across the UK. We have and will continue to speak to our housing association colleagues to push for government to find a resolution which will enable our customers to sell, staircase and re-mortgage their homes.
If you’re in the process of selling or re-mortgaging your home, we would suggest raising this issue with any potential buyer, or the lender.
Whatever your circumstance, if you’re looking to staircase, sale or re-mortgage your home, we recommend that you find out your options by speaking to an independent financial advisor as we don’t have this expertise or service within our offer, familiar with the current mortgage market for high-rise buildings.
We hear and know that this is a difficult situation for many of our leaseholders and shared owners. We’re doing everything we can to help the process and support you. If you have any questions about your lease or shared ownership arrangement, we’re here to help you. Just contact our home ownership team on 0300 456 2099, Monday to Friday, 8am- 5pm or send us an email.
What is Catalyst doing to help?
Your safety is our priority and we’re committed to making sure the fire safety across all our buildings is to the highest possible standard, and in line with fire safety guidance. All of Catalyst’s high-rise buildings received building control sign-off at the time of completion. They also all have an up-to-date fire risk assessment (FRA). We review these each year for our high-rise blocks (18 metres (six floors) or above) and any recommendations are dealt with immediately or put into a programme of work, to be completed as soon as it is possible to do so.
As well as the wellbeing and safety of all our customers, and following government advice, our top priority this year is the removal of aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding from our high-rise buildings (Crossway Point, Dan Court and Merle Court) by August 2020. As of end of July 2020, these buildings are now ACM free.
We’ll then develop a programme of inspections and a planned programme of works for our other taller buildings, focusing on those which have high pressure laminate (HPL) materials on them next.
Following this, buildings will be prioritised based on factors including height and building materials used. By adopting a risk-based approach, allows us to prioritise investigations and remedial works. This means that the buildings we identify as lower risk, will be later in our programme of investigative surveys.
We anticipate our programme of inspections, testing and remedial works will take several years to deliver. If your building is part of our inspection programme, we’ll let you know when the inspection will take place.
If you have any questions or worries about the safety of your home, please get in touch, we’re here to help. Contact our home ownership team on 0300 456 2099 to discuss your individual circumstances and how we can help.
Please read our EWS1 factsheet – PDF 120KB for more information.