Latest building safety announcements


21.07.2021 EWS1 forms and buildings below 18m

The Government has announced that EWS1 forms should no longer be requested for buildings below 18 metres.

Opening a debate on the Building Safety Bill, the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the new advice follows expert advice and has the support of the country's major lenders.

The Government-commissioned independent research concluded that there was "no systemic risk of fire" in medium to low rise blocks of flats and recommended a "more proportionate approach" to assessing fire risk.

The advice states that sprinkler and alarm systems should be used where possible to manage fire risks and that the "overwhelming majority" of blocks under 18m with cladding should not need costly remediation.

The Housing Secretary said that he hoped the announcement would start to unlock the housing market for thousands of leaseholders.

"We hope that this intervention will help restore balance to the market and provide reassurance for existing and aspiring homeowners alike," he said.

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05.07.2021 Building Safety Bill

The Building Safety Bill sets out government plans for new laws, powers and penalties designed to ensure the safety of homes across the UK.

It includes:

  • The establishment of a Building Safety Regulator to oversee the new safety regime and hold rule-breakers to account.
  • More ways for residents in high-rise buildings to raise concerns about safety with building owners and managers who have a duty to listen to them. If residents feel they are being ignored, they can raise concerns directly with the Building Safety Regulator.
  • The extension from six to 15 years after construction of the period in which homeowners - including leaseholders - can seek compensation from developers for defective safety work. This will apply retrospectively to include buildings constructed up to 15 years ago.
  • A legal requirement for building owners to explore alternative ways to fund building safety remediation works before they can pass on the costs to leaseholders.

More information

10.02.201 Additional grants and loan scheme

Government cladding announcement

On February 10 2021, Housing Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, unveiled Government plans to address the cladding crisis. They include £3.5bn of additional grants for leaseholders in the tallest buildings, and low-cost loans for those in shorter blocks that need remediation.

We welcome the Government’s announcement today of the additional £3.5bn to fix cladding on high-rise buildings in England.

Leaseholders in buildings over 18m or six storeys will be eager to see the funds become available as soon as possible so we can continue to progress remediation works. However, we will need to wait for the detail on this announcement; including when the money will become available, how the Government will distribute it, how it will define ‘cladding’ and which buildings meet the requirements.

Loans

We are concerned with the announcement that leaseholders who live in buildings that are between four and six storeys will be expected to pay for remedial works through a loan.  We await details from Government about how this will work in practice.

We were disappointed that no funding was announced for councils or housing associations to help with costs to remediate social housing with cladding. As an organisation, we have already set aside £265m towards remediating our existing social housing stock, but the money invested in fixing cladding issues means there will be far less investment into building new desperately needed social housing.

EWS1 forms

The Government also announced that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has consulted on new guidance for valuers on when an EWS1 form is needed, which will help ensure half a million leaseholders in blocks over 11m will not need a separate EWS1 assessment to get a mortgage. We strongly welcome this intervention from the Government and hope that it will help some of our leaseholders.

We will provide further information to our residents as the Government announces the details of its proposals.

Do all blocks need EWS1 forms?

The Government announced in November 2020 that residents who live in buildings 'without cladding' will no longer need an EWS1 form if they want to sell or remortgage their home. This could help up to 450,000 leaseholders who are currently waiting for an EWS1 form and are unable to move.

The Government defines ‘cladding’ as:

  • aluminium composite material (ACM)
  • brick slips
  • high pressure laminate (HPL)
  • metal composite material (MCM)
  • metal sheet panels
  • rendered external wall insulation system
  • plastic
  • tiling systems
  • timber
  • curtain wall glazing.

The following are not ‘cladding’:

  • masonry construction (panels of solid brickwork, blockwork, or stonework)
  • traditional cavity wall construction (with a brickwork, blockwork or stonework external leaf)
  • timber framed buildings (with a brickwork, blockwork or stonework external leaf)
  • concrete panels
  • stone panels.

In March 2021 the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors published new guidance for those valuing homes on behalf of mortgage lenders on when they should and should not request EWS1 forms.

The guidance already has the support of most lenders and RICS is now calling on all UK lenders to support and implement the guidance from 5 April 2021.

This guidance states that:

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 (such as 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 (that’s approximately one quarter of the whole elevation estimated from what is visible standing at ground level) or
  • there are Aluminium Composite Mateial (ACM), Metal Composite Material (MCM) or High Pressure Laminate (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.

Read more abut the new guidance for valuers