What is an EWS1 form?
An EWS1 (External Wall System) form provides independent assurance that your building meets the requirements of the Government’s latest standards.
It is not a legal requirement but some lenders will ask for EWS1 forms before they will consider offering a mortgage.
Why would I need an EWS1 form?
Since Grenfell, the Government has been carrying out fire safety tests on specific materials used in external wall systems, such as the ACM cladding which was found on Grenfell Tower. We have also been inspecting our buildings for these materials and any other safety concerns and remediating them as a priority.
Because the issues are so complex, mortgage providers are asking for additional information about a building’s external wall system through the EWS1 form.
Do I need an EWS1 form?
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has produced guidance suggesting any residential building could require an EWS1 form.
Unfortunately, when the Government broadened the scope of its advice on combustible materials in January 2020, it led some mortgage providers to interpret the guidance as applying to a wider range of buildings. This means that in some cases it is difficult for leaseholders to remortgage, staircase (buy a greater share of their property) or sell their homes.
If you are concerned that your ability to staircase or sell your home might be affected by these changes, please seek advice directly from your lender or mortgage broker. Approaches differ between lenders, from building to building and according to people’s individual circumstances and Sanctuary has no control over valuations or the granting of mortgages and the terms attached to them.
For buildings over six storeys, an EWS1 form should be required where:
- There is cladding or curtain wall glazing on the building or
- There are balconies which stack vertically above each other and either both the balustrades and decking are constructed with combustible materials (e.g. timber) or the decking is constructed with combustible materials and the balconies are directly linked by combustible material.
For buildings of five or six storeys, an EWS1 form should be required where:
- There is a significant amount of cladding on the building or
- There are ACM, MCM or HPL panels on the building or
- There are balconies which stack vertically above each other and either both the balustrades and decking are constructed with combustible materials (e.g. timber), or the decking is constructed with combustible materials and the balconies are directly linked by combustible materials.
For buildings of four storeys or fewer, an EWS1 form should be required where:
- There are ACM, MCM or HPL panels on the building.
How do I get an EWS1 form?
If your lender or your buyer’s lender has requested an EWS1, please contact us so we can assess whether one is needed. We can then either arrange it for you or help you explain to your mortgage provider why we don’t think one is needed.
Please don’t instruct someone to complete a form on your own, as there have been cases of people found to be acting fraudulently. Lenders are also likely to only accept an EWS1 form that has been commissioned by us.
How long will it take to get an EWS1 form?
We recognise that any delay in a mortgage application will be frustrating and we are doing all we can to support people affected. Where we believe an ESW1 request is not in line with the RICS guidance, we will support our homeowners to provide this evidence to lenders.
Where Sanctuary is the freeholder of a building, we take a risk-based approach based on criteria we gather from our records and surveys to allow us to determine the risk level and prioritise those where we deem there is a need for an intrusive assessment to be conducted. It should be noted that because of the national demand and shortage of skilled professionals who can carry out an assessment, this may not happen quickly. In the meantime, we will support leaseholders by continuing to provide available documentation to them as part of their sale or staircase enquiry.
We are discussing this issue on a case-by-case basis with homeowners who are currently in the staircasing, remortgaging, or sale process. We encourage any homeowner who’s looking to staircase, remortgage, or sell their property to seek advice before incurring any fees for legal or financial advice.
Some homeowners have a property within blocks that Sanctuary does not own or have responsibility for the structure of the building. In these instances, such assessments are the responsibility of the freeholder or managing agent.
Finally, we would encourage anyone to contact us to discuss what options may be available if they have not been able to sell their property.
We would like to reassure all leaseholders that building safety is our absolute priority - we ensure they have up to date Fire Risk Assessments in place which are available on request.
Sanctuary would like to apologise to residents who have been affected by this issue. We understand how upsetting and frustrating this is. With our partners in the sector, we’re doing everything we can to find a way forward with the Government.
You can also read more about EWS1 forms on the National Housing Federation’s website.
Will I be able to sell once I have the EWS1 form?
An EWS1 form contains five categories for buildings, and these are split into two options.
Option A (three categories of building): materials in the external wall are unlikely to support combustion. This means mortgage providers are much more likely to be satisfied that a prospective buyer could be approved for a mortgage.
Option B (two categories of building): either further inspection is needed or remedial works to the external wall system has been identified. It is therefore likely that a mortgage provider will expect the external wall to be remediated before it will consider mortgage applications.
Will Sanctuary contribute to any additional costs I may incur?
As a charitable organisation, we are unable to provide blanket support to leaseholders to help with mortgage costs. We are working as quickly as we can to complete EWS1 requests.