EWS1 form, also known as an external wall and fire review form, is a form intended to keep a standardised record of the condition of a high-rise building’s external walls. In the aftermath of the Grenfell tower tragedy, the government introduced EWS1 forms in order to take substantive measures to prevent such tragedies from reoccurring. As this can be a complex matter for leaseholders in high-rise buildings, we will cover the important details about EWS1 forms and what they mean for leaseholders.
The role of an EWS1 form is to act as a mortgage valuation tool when a leaseholder is looking to buy, sell or re-mortgage an apartment within a high-rise block. It is important to note that an EWS1 is not a fire safety report or a building safety certificate, it is also not a legal requirement. It is purely intended to reassure lenders that a property can be mortgaged reliably.
These assessments are currently being completed on all properties 18m or more. An EWS1 is also required if a building has a balcony made partially or completely of wood. Furthermore, they can only be completed by a qualified and competent person of a professional body that meets criteria set by the UK government, in line with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). In England and Wales, only one needs to be completed for each building, (i.e. if you live in a development complex with three buildings, you would need 3 ESW1 forms), these are valid for 5 years. In Scotland however, you may require an EWS1 form for each individual flat, this is due to a different legal system.
Whilst this is not a statutory duty, landlords and managing agents are supporting leaseholders by facilitating these assessments where required. In Wales, responsible persons have access to the building remediation passport fund to help survey the buildings that require assessments. A physical inspection is often carried out, or/and a thorough review of the original paperwork of the building from the developer. Tests to the external wall may also be carried out where required.
There are two types of results that can come out of an EWS1 form. Option A and Option B. Option A means that it is unlikely that remedial work needs to occur and can be further broken down into 3 categories;
Option B means that the cladding does contain combustible material and can be further broken down into 2 categories;
If remedial work is noted under option B of the EWS1 form, then a valuer would need to consider this when valuing a property. It is then likely that a valuer would need to know the costs of any remedial works required and a timeline of those works, otherwise, they may be unlikely to lend.
In conclusion, an EWS1 form could prove useful if you are looking to sell your apartment in a block of apartments over 18m tall. The outcome of the form can identify the external mak-up of a building and whether there are combustible materials or not. It can then also determine whether these are low risk and no work is required or whether this is deemed as high risk and therefore remedial work is required. These forms are usually accessible via your managing agent or freeholder.
If you are a leaseholder who is looking for further information and guidance in relation to an EWS1 form on an apartment they own, please feel free to contact us.