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How To Check If My Building Require An EWS1 Certificate?

Property Saviour » Flats » How To Check If My Building Require An EWS1 Certificate?

Are you currently living in a flat? Are you considering purchasing one? If so, you might have heard that mortgage lenders often ask for the building’s EWS1 certificate before granting a loan for such a property.

But what is an EWS1 certificate and how do you get one? This guide will help you figure it out.

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What Is an EWS1 Certificate?

2017 a devastating fire broke out in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower Flats in West London.

It started as a simple electrical problem with a refrigerator on the fourth floor, but the building’s cladding and insulation created a stack effect that caused the fire to burn for 60 hours. As a result, 72 people died and 70 others were severely injured.

In response, fire safety regulations for the cladding of any residential building were tightened. This led to the introduction of the EWS1 form in 2018. Before this form existed, residential high-rise properties did not have to use limited combustibility in their external wall systems.

The EWS1 form provides evidence that the cladding on a building has been recently assessed for fire safety. The form assigns each building a rating. Option A indicates that the external wall materials are unlikely to support combustion; it is further divided into three categories.

A1 means the cladding does not have any combustible materials in it. A2 means a risk assessment has been conducted, and no additional work is required. A3 means the cladding won’t support combustion, but improvements are necessary.

Option B indicates that the cladding does have combustible materials in it. It is divided into two categories. B1 indicates that the fire risk is low enough that no additional work is required. B2 means the fire risk is high enough that extra work must be done.

Do I Need an EWS1 Certificate?

Wondering about the answer to “Do I need an EWS1 certificate”? You’re not alone. Many people ask themselves the same question. Generally, if you live in a residential building taller than 18 metres, and it has either combustible cladding or a wooden balcony, an EWS1 is necessary.

The Royal Institute of Surveyors (RICS) has released guidance on when EWS1 forms are required. Although many mortgage lenders call for these forms for a variety of buildings, there is a shortage of qualified engineers to inspect them.

To reduce the amount of demand for EWS1 certificates, RICS issued new advice to avoid common delays when buying, selling or remortgaging a property in the UK.

Mortgage lenders must now have a valid reason to request an EWS1 certificate, such as the building’s height, the material used in the cladding, and the amount of cladding in the building.

Because of this guidance, 92% of valuations for mortgages do not need an EWS1 form anymore. Additionally, buildings built after 2018 are exempted from needing an EWS1 form since new regulations prevent the use of combustible cladding.

In short, if your building does not have cladding or a wooden balcony, you don’t need an EWS1 certificate. Keep in mind, though, that some buildings may appear to lack cladding, but have brick and stone slip-wall external systems or decorative cladding panels.

Even if past sales in the building didn’t require an EWS1 certificate, that doesn’t guarantee that the sale of your property won’t. It all depends on the lender. The fact that a lender hasn’t asked for one in the past is a good sign, but you may still be asked for one.

How To Check If My Building Require An EWS1 Certificate
The EWS1 form provides evidence that the cladding on a building has been recently assessed for fire safety.

How to Get an EWS1 Certificate?

Learning how to get an EWS1 certificate isn’t difficult. A qualified professional carries out a fire risk assessment of the external wall system and cladding.

Once they are sure that all the necessary preventive measures have been taken to help safeguard a building in the event of a fire, they sign off on an EWS1 form.

This single form covers the whole building and is valid for five years in England and Wales. In Scotland, though, separate EWS1 forms might be needed for each flat. These forms inform lenders that it is safe to grant mortgages for flats in that building.

Fire Safety Assessments Are a Separate Part of the Process

It’s essential to remember that Fire Safety Assessments are a distinct part of the process. Valuation professionals and lenders require an EWS1 certificate to confirm that the external wall construction of the building is secure in the event of a fire.

Fire Safety Assessments cover other matters too. Other types of buildings must also undergo fire risk assessments. Any occupied building, such as a residence, a school, a workplace, or even an aircraft, must have a fire risk assessment.

The resultant document in these cases is much more comprehensive. The responsible person – like the owner or landlord – must address any issues noted on these forms.

It’s important to bear in mind that an EWS1 does not make a building “safe.” It’s a fairly limited assessment – just a brief evaluation of the potential fire risk that is posed as a result of the external wall system itself.

It does not assess the structural stability of a building, the ventilation issues in a building, or even the presence of any hazardous materials in a building. It doesn’t even guarantee building regulation compliance. Only a completion certificate from local authorities certifies that to be the case.

The Timeline on EWS1 Forms

If you’re a leaseholder or a freeholder who needs an EWS1 certificate to sell or remortgage your property, you need to get the form when the mortgage valuer asks for it.

Though not legally required, these forms can help your mortgage lender feel more secure before lending money on the property. It’s best to assume that you will be asked for an EWS1 if you own or are selling a property with cladding.

To obtain the form, you must speak with the building owner. As a leaseholder (or potential leaseholder), you are not able to arrange an inspection to get the certificate.

Neither can your valuer or lender. The legal owner of the building must request one. If the owner won’t ask for it, other leaseholders should work together to encourage them to do so. If this fails, you can ask your local council for help.

If the building owner has already had the inspection and has a valid EWS1 form, you should be able to request it. You can also search for it on the Building Safety Information Portal. However, due to upload delays, you may have difficulty finding it.

What Is The Overall EWS1 Certificate Cost
The cost can vary depending on the size of the building and the type of cladding it has. Generally, the average EWS1 certificate cost is £6,000, but in complex cases, it can be as high as £21,000.

The Overall EWS1 Certificate Cost

Obtaining an EWS1 can be quite expensive. It is the freeholder’s responsibility to cover the costs, not the person who needs the certificate to get a loan.

The freeholder may be able to pass some of the costs onto the leaseholder, depending on what the lease states about maintenance and safety requirements.

The cost can vary depending on the size of the building and the type of cladding it has. Generally, the average EWS1 certificate cost is £6,000, but in complex cases, it can be as high as £21,000.

If the leaseholder is required to pay the cost, it will usually be incorporated into the annual service charge. New potential property owners should not have to pay anything to obtain a copy of an already completed EWS1 form.

Do Remortgages Require EWS1 Forms?

It is up to the lender to decide whether or not an EWS1 certificate is needed in any given situation.

If you are looking to remortgage a building with cladding, then the lender might request an EWS1 form. Alternatively, they could assess the RICS criteria and determine that an EWS1 document is not necessary.

What if a Building has Unsafe Cladding?

Even with the introduction of new regulations, some buildings may still have unsafe cladding. If an inspection reveals this to be the case, the EWS1 form will be marked B1 or B2.

If the building is taller than 11 metres, the government will fund the removal of the unsafe cladding, with the costs covered by funds created by major housing developers in February 2021.

However, for buildings shorter than 11 metres, the leaseholders must pay for the costs. The government is currently working on a plan to help cover the cost of these shorter buildings.

Moreover, if a building’s EWS1 certificate indicates that work is required, this will affect the value of everyone’s property. If you’re trying to sell a property with an EWS1 form rating of B1 or B2, you may need to obtain a specialist property valuation from a RICS member.

This will take into account any renovation costs so that potential buyers are aware of them and who is responsible for paying them. These valuations tend to be more expensive, usually costing around £1,500, but they are beneficial if you are keen to sell.

How-Often-do-EWS1-Forms-Need-to-Be-Renewed
If any significant changes have been made to the building's external walls or the five years have expired, then a new form must be obtained through a reinspection.

How Often do EWS1 Forms Need to Be Renewed?

An EWS1 certificate is valid for five years from the date the initial survey was conducted. If any significant changes have been made to the building’s external walls or the five years have expired, then a new form must be obtained through a reinspection.

The lender will decide who requires an updated EWS1 certificate.

Who Can Perform an EWS1 Inspection?

Inspections can be carried out by various types of professionals. If there is no combustible material on the external walls, architects, engineers, and surveyors can complete the form. However, if there is combustible material present, an individual with more expertise is needed.

This person should typically be a Chartered/Incorporated Engineer with full membership in the Institution of Fire Engineers or a qualified member of another professional body that specializes in fire safety.

My Building Shouldn’t Need an EWS1 Inspection, But My Lender is Asking for It?

If you’re looking to purchase or refinance a building that doesn’t need to have an EWS1 certificate, but your lender insists on it, it may be beneficial to have a conversation with them.

You can explain the regulations involved and make it clear that an EWS1 certificate is not necessary. If they still require one, your solicitor should discuss the requirement with them.

Lenders must have a valid reason for asking for an EWS1 Certificate for a mortgage. If the building owner refuses to conduct an assessment, despite the lender having a valid rationale, there is not much you can do apart from choosing not to work with that lender.

Leaseholders cannot force a building owner to get an EWS1 certificate, and there is no legal obligation for the building to have one. You can contact the local council, work with a leaseholders’ association, and do other things to make sure the building is secure and mortgages are approved.

Nonetheless, there is only so much you can do. Lenders don’t have to work with you to finance or refinance the property, and if an assessor finds that remedial work is needed but the freeholder won’t do it, you are left to face the consequences.

What are the benefits of EWS1form
The EWS1 certificate mortgage helps lenders gauge the risks of lending on a property, as well as allowing potential tenants to assess the safety of the building.

The Real Benefits of the Form

The EWS1 certificate mortgage helps lenders gauge the risks of lending on a property, as well as allowing potential tenants to assess the safety of the building.

The form needs to be completed by a qualified professional, who knows how to evaluate the cladding used on a building and how it could affect safety in the event of a fire, thus providing a sense of security.

Despite this, the form is not mandatory, meaning lenders may still require it. Additionally, some tenants may feel uneasy if the form is needed yet the freeholder refuses to pay for the inspection.

If You Can’t Sell Because of an EWS1 Form

If you can’t sell your home because you need an EWS1 form but the freeholder refuses to get one for

If you can’t sell your home because you need an EWS1 form but the freeholder won’t get one for you, there’s not a lot you can do. Most lenders won’t offer a loan for properties that don’t meet the requirements, like those under 18 metres, and this can put you in a difficult situation.

Your best bet might be to look for a cash buyer who can afford to buy your property without a loan. Though you might make less overall when you work with a cash buyer, it would allow you to get out from under a property if the freeholder refuses to have an EWS1 inspection.

Make sure to disclose the potential issue to any potential new buyers so they understand the problem before buying.

Cash buyer sales have many advantages. They’re often incredibly quick, taking as little as two weeks to complete depending on the property, buyers, and sellers. Plus, they’re simple to execute since there are few people involved.

This means that a leaseholder can be out from under their property in a matter of days. If a leaseholder doesn’t want to go through the usual property sale tasks, like cleaning, staging, and repairs, they don’t have to.

They can just sell the property in its current condition, which helps to make the sale faster, even without the paperwork from lenders.

Though full disclosure about the property will still need to be made if there are significant issues, you don’t have to wait on paperwork.

The Future of EWS1 Certificates

Many have found his certification program to be useful, while just as many have found it to be incredibly frustrating. It is hoped that in the future, the Government will recognize and take action to address the potential issues related to this form and the process of obtaining it.

They could also assist with the form and additional financial aid for freeholders to fix any issues for the safety of their tenants. This would allow more people to get mortgages on properties with lenders worried about the fire risk from external wall systems.

Until then, leaseholders who want to sell or potential leaseholders who want to buy properties without an EWS1 on file will have to figure things out themselves.

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