Do you need to complete an EWS1 form to buy or sell your flat? Here are seven things you should know before you do.
The new EWS1 forms are causing mass confusion with everyone who wants to buy or sell in a block of flats. The government have gone back and forth on the legislation to the point where everyone is a little bit confused.
Originally introduced to protect the public from external cladding fires in apartment blocks, the form and the guidance have changed over time. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about those changes, and the form itself.
If you are buying or selling a property affected by the external cladding laws, you will have to complete the EWS1. Here is how you get one, what you do with it, and how it works.
The EWS (or external wall fire safety form) was created to solve this issue. After Grenfell, the UK government issued Advice Note 14 in December 2018. This advice note advised flat owners to take general fire precautions. Lenders started to devalue properties without certification to say homes were compliant with this note.
By 2019, a review by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors had turned the advice note into the EWS1 process. Buildings over eighteen metres high needed to prove EWS1 compliance with a form before buying or selling could take place.
The process is a commercial one, not an official governmental one. This means that lenders are driving the need for forms, and therefore the occasional need for changes to the forms. While the process initially applied to buildings over eighteen metres, an advice note introduced in Jan 2020 says that buildings of any height may need assessed if they use combustible external cladding. In November 2020, guidance changed again to release those buildings without cladding from this arrangement.
The EWS1 form has remained available only by request. Although it would be easier to make the form available online, there are not enough qualified experts to make the inspections and complete all the forms at once. Progress slowed further by insurance providers not willing to provide insurance to those issuing the EWS1 form.
As a result of the shortage, the government’s November 2021 announcement says they have issued £700,000 in funding to help train new assessors. Big brand lenders also trying to help include TSB, Santander, Nationwide, NatWest, Lloyds, Barclays, and HSBC UK. They are paying for uploading 6,000 existing forms and covering the fees of 250 assessors.
Their aim is to bring the form to the Fire Industry Association Building Safety Information Portal, at a future date.
If your lender can establish that you are following the consolidated advice notes, or it you have a building fire safety certificate in place, you do not need EWS1. Similarly, if you do not have cladding, you do not need it.
If your flat has HPL or ACM cladding, you will need to look further into the matter before you buy or sell. If your building is a flat of any size that has this cladding on the exterior, you will need to apply for this form, which you do through your lender. You will only be able to buy or sell once the form is complete, which could take a long time due to the staffing shortages.