Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick has announced that flats in buildings without cladding will no longer require an external wall survey known as a EWS1, before they can be sold or remortgaged.
The decision, following an agreement with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), UK Finance and the Building Societies Association (BSA), has come after the government says that hundreds of thousands of homeowners have been unable to get the surveys done, as there are only around 300 qualified surveyors in the country, leaving them unable to sell or remortgage their property.
The checks were first introduced after the fire at Grenfell Tower, which spread along the outside walls and killed 72 people.
Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:
“Through no fault of their own, some flat-owners have been unable to sell or re-mortgage their homes – and this cannot be allowed to continue.
“That’s why the government has secured agreement that the EWS1 form will not be needed on buildings where there is no cladding; providing certainty for the almost 450,000 homeowners who may have felt stuck in limbo. However, this is only part of a wider solution and we continue to support those homeowners who do have cladding on their buildings and where there is still more to do.
“I welcome the support we have received from RICS and industry to resolve this matter and will be working urgently with lenders to resolve these challenges, ensuring that EWS1 forms are requested only where absolutely necessary…”
Robert Jenrick also explained that the government was paying to train 2,000 more assessors within six months to speed up checks on blocks, which did have cladding.
Sean Tompkins, CEO, RICS said:
“We are aware of the severe impact this has had on some homeowners and we agree that buildings without cladding should not be subject to the process.”
Alison Taylor, B P Collins’ property partner and practice group leader says:
“The Government’s attempt to streamline the conveyancing process to avoid unnecessary red tape is welcomed. There are still issues other than cladding that require external fire safety checks and there are a large number of properties that will still need the EWS1 so the proposal to train more fire assessors is essential. The Government announcement is still under review by lenders and the RICS and we will wait for further guidance.”