The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recently launched a consultation on proposed guidance intended to improve consistency as to when EWS1 forms are requested. The consultation closed on Monday with the proposed guidance note due in the Spring. This follows the government’s statement towards the end of last year confirming that owners of flats in buildings without cladding do not need Form EWS1 to sell or re-mortgage their property. Clarity on this matter will be welcomed by buyers, sellers and lenders alike because issues with form EWS1 have caused considerable delays to certain flat sales and have resulted in some transactions not proceeding with the resultant anxiety and financial consequences for the leaseholders.
EWS stands for external wall system. The EWS form is intended to be a standard way of recording what assessment has been carried out for the external wall construction of residential apartment buildings over 18 metres or where specific concerns exist. The RICS led a cross-industry working group in developing the EWS1 process and the aim was to help people buy and sell homes and re-mortgage with the form being first introduced back in December 2019. Unfortunately, difficulties in obtaining the form, issues with cost and the form being requested more widely than originally intended has meant that its introduction has actually led to more delays and problems with transactions.
We have written about these issues in more detail here. It is vital that the issue of form EWS1, and whether or not is it required, is addressed at the commencement of the transaction. We await the final version of the guidance note but we hope that clarity as to when the form is actually required and a consistent position for lenders should help to improve the process.
Since its introduction, Government advice has changed, and COVID-19 has seen lending criteria reviewed. EWS1 was never intended to hold up the market, indeed without it, no one would be moving. However, this proposed guidance intends to help by providing valuers with clear criteria to help them decide on whether an EWS1 form may be required or not