Simplified External Wall System (EWS) guidance to help leaseholders sell flats in blocks with external cladding has been issued by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS).
This guidance explains how from early April onwards there will be no need for EWS checks on all buildings of four storeys or below, as long as they are not clad in aluminium composite material (ACM), other metal composite materials (MCM) or high-pressure laminate (HPL).
Also, taller buildings won’t need to be checked if they do not have ACM, MCM or HPL present, and if the cladding covers less than 25% of the building.
This has the potential to release hundreds of thousands of stranded leasehold apartment owners who have been seeking to sell their homes but have been unable to do so until now.
Ben Elder (pictured), RICS’ Head of Valuation Standards, says: “This guidance provides a framework for consistency across the mortgage valuation sector as to when an EWS1 form is required.”
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has welcomed the new guidance, claiming that it means nearly 500,000 leaseholders will no longer need an EWS1 form, and that additional assessors are being recruited to clear the existing backlog for those who live in buildings which still need an EWS1 letter.
“Backed by nearly £700,000 government funding, over 500 assessors have now started training so that where valuations are needed these can be done more quickly, speeding up the process for homeowners,” says Jenrick.
But Tasha Letchford of End Our Cladding Scandal (EOCS) says that the need for an EWS1 form is only one part of the national building safety crisis.
She believes the wide range of serious, internal and external, safety defects being uncovered in residential buildings of all heights aren’t being considered.