If your building is under 18m tall (about seven storeys) it is not usually appropriate to complete an EWS1 form because this form is designed to be used on tall buildings or where specific concerns exist.
The government advice does not require that an EWS1 form is completed for buildings of this height but all buildings must comply with government’s building safety guidance and this is done by carrying out an external wall system assessment. We are systematically working through all our buildings to carry out this work but this takes time.
Since the government advice was issued, some mortgage lenders have been asking for EWS1 form certification on any building they are asked to lend on, even if it is under 18m tall or there are no specific concerns. This is affecting leaseholders who wish to sell, staircase or re-mortgage their homes in low-rise blocks and are unable to.
The EWS1 form is only for use on buildings over 18m tall or where specific concerns exist, so if your building isn’t over that height our current advice is that we won't be completing an EWS1 form except where there are exceptional circumstances. That does not mean that we are not planning to carry out an external wall system assessment. We are able to supply a relevant Fire Risk Assessment for your building and our building safety programme extends to carrying out external wall system assessment on all relevant buildings under 18m. The outcome of these assessments for buildings under 18m will be an expert report (the equivalent of an EWS1 form) that demonstrates the checks we have carried out to ensure compliance with the government guidance. Where there are specific concerns about a building's external wall system, then it may be that the outcome of our external wall system assessment is an EWS1 form because in those circumstances the form would be appropriate.
We keep the external wall system process and government guidance under constant review. However the decision about whether to produce an EWS1 form or an equivalent as the outcome of an external wall system assessment for buildings under 18m does not affect the order or speed with which we carry out the assessments. We are systematically working through all our relevant buildings using a risk based assessment to establish the order of priority. This is our building safety programme.
If you are finding that a lender is requesting an EWS1 form on a building under 18m we would encourage you to speak to your mortgage broker or financial advisor as not all lenders are taking the same approach and you may find another lender takes a different view. What they are really asking for is whether your building has gone through the external wall system assessment process.
What is frustrating anyone involved in sales and re-mortgages of their home is waiting for their building to have the external wall system assessment work done so that evidence in either the EWS1 form or its equivalent can been produced. We are working through all our buildings in order of priority as fast as we can but this will take time and does mean that for some leaseholders there will be a delay.