We are aware that a number of resident shared owners / leaseholders, have been prevented from progressing with a purchase, staircasing, resale or re-mortgage, as a result of lenders’ concern about the safety of buildings, and Hexagon being unable to provide an EWS1 form in response to these concerns. You will no doubt be aware of how widescale this problem is for residents across the UK.
We recognise this is extremely disappointing for residents in this situation, many of whom find themselves in very difficult circumstances and we are very sorry for any stress this situation is causing.
Set out below is an explanation of the current position and confirms Hexagon’s approach to EWS1 Form requests from lenders. We hope this provides clarity and assists you with your decision making.
The EWS1 form was put in place by the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) and was originally intended for ‘high-rise’ buildings (i.e. those with a habitable floor above 18m high). Over the past 12 months, there has been a growth in lenders requesting EWS1 forms on all buildings regardless of height, or risk posed by external wall materials, which has impacted on sales being able to progress.
The criteria for when banks and other lenders require an EWS1 form is currently being reviewed by the RICS and we are hopeful that the outcome of the revised RICS guidance for lenders and valuers will mean that buildings under six storeys in height will not ‘generally’ be required to provide an EWS1 Form.
Further information about the consultation and planned revised guidance is available here:
To provide some further context, Hexagon owns just two ‘high rise’ buildings which are 18m+ in height with cladding material on the external wall, and intrusive investigations have been carried out on both (affected residents have been notified). One of these buildings has been found to have combustible cladding which needs to be removed and works are about to begin. We have provided an EWS1 form for this building with a B2 certification reflecting that work needs to be carried out. Many lenders have refused to grant mortgages to residents / purchasers in flats in this building, despite the fact that remedial works have been instructed and about to commence. However, we have had a sale complete recently at the same block despite the B2 certification
We have also had experiences with some lenders requesting EWS1 forms on newly built and existing blocks, below 18m in height preventing sales from progressing, as well as other lenders not requesting an EWS1 form at the same blocks, allowing sales to complete.
This illustrates the complexity of the issue, which will remain so until the above referenced revised RICS guidance is published, and lenders begin to take a consistent approach to the fire safety risks posed by blocks of flats.
We are taking a planned and managed approach to assessing the fire safety compliance of all our relevant buildings i.e. those with external wall systems / cladding. We will then prioritise any remedial work required on those blocks found to be of highest risk.
Once our plans are finalised, we will be updating residents when we start the review of each building, and of course residents will be kept informed about any subsequent remedial works which may be required.
It is unfortunate that until the ‘risk’ status of our buildings is known, we are unable to commission EWS1 surveys to buildings below 18m / six storey height. We are happy to provide information about our buildings to assist with lenders’ specific queries, (e.g. latest Fire Risk Assessments) but we will not be instructing EWS1 surveys to answer such queries.
We are unable to reimburse any costs incurred if your transaction does not proceed due to this matter.
We are sorry we cannot do more to assist you at the current time, but hope this explanation provides context and clarity to our position.