Another setback in the cladding crisis

Blogs

Only a few days after we wrote about the Government’s announcement that was expected to unlock some of the property market, there has been yet another setback for properties affected by the cladding crisis.

When Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that buildings of less than 18 metres in height would not need an EWS1 form and should be considered by lenders to be safe, a number of major lenders pledged to follow this recommendation which would allow an estimated 800,000 flats in low-rise buildings to be eligible for mortgages again.

However, there have since been numerous reports that banks are in fact unlikely to change their lending policies until the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, known as RICS, updates its own specialist guidance.

While individual lenders had initially committed to following the Government’s recommendation, UK Finance stated until RICS and the Government officially update their advice, the members of UK Finance (which includes every major lender) would continue to be guided by surveyors’ expert opinions.

In turn, RICS have stated that it cannot alter its position until the Government’s official advice changes, and some reports suggest that this may not take place until November.

EWS1 forms had previously only been required for the tallest tower blocks, but the Government altered its guidance in January 2020 to include residential blocks of any height despite studies having concluded that there is no major risk in buildings below 18 metres (which is usually between 4 and 6 stories), and that the fire risk could simply be managed by installing alarm systems and sprinklers.

You can find more detailed information on the Government’s website, or at Today’s Conveyancer.