/ Home & Energy

Have you had mortgage issues due to an EWS1 form?

A survey designed to ensure high-rise blocks of flats adhere to fire safety rules is causing mortgages to be declined. Have you been affected?

26/08/2020: Scammers take advantage of EWS1 confusion

Which? has seen evidence that fraudsters are duping leaseholders into paying thousands for fake External Wall Survey (EWS1) forms.

Read the full story on Which? News

The forms forged the names and signatures of real chartered surveyors. The findings have been passed to the police and Action Fraud.

You can read more about the effect the EWS1 process is having on blocks of flats around the country here.

21/07/2020: Have you had mortgage issues?

Following the Grenfell tragedy, UK Finance, the Building Societies Association and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors collaborated to create the External Wall Survey (EWS1) in December 2019.

What is an EWS1 form?

The External Wall Survey was launched to ensure older blocks of flats weren’t built with combustible materials, such as the cladding or insulation, giving mortgage lenders confidence to lend on apartments built before changes to building regulations in late 2018.

The EWS1 is recommended for residential blocks of 18 metres or taller, and must be requested by the block’s original developer. One completed survey is recommended per building.

Mortgage complications

There are stumbling blocks in the EWS1 process which are causing headaches for home buyers.

First of all, the survey isn’t mandatory, and secondly, it was only launched last December. This means that some mortgage lenders require the form, but others are yet to implement it. 

Rules vary, too. When we spoke to two major banks earlier this year, one told us it only asks for the form for flats built before February 2019, and the other refused to outline its requirements.

The survey can be arranged with permission of the freeholder (often via managing agents), leading to huge frustrations for buyers seeing their moves placed on hold as various parties come to an impasse. 

We’re also now hearing examples in which lenders are refusing mortgages on blocks of flats regardless of the recommended 18 metre or taller height, leaving smaller blocks requiring the form to buy and sell.

A ‘slow and expensive’ process

Home buyers and sellers have contacted Which? telling us they’ve hit a brick wall when it comes to obtaining an EWS1 form, and frustrations are growing.

Last month, the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee described the EWS process as ‘slow and expensive’ and said it is ‘being applied to an unnecessarily wide range of buildings’.

It has called for the government to implement a ‘faster and fairer’ system.

Have you been denied a mortgage or had a move fall through due to the lack of an EWS1 form? What progress have you been able to make since?

Let us know your situation in the comments.

Comments
Claire says:
22 March 2021

Flat is in a building over 18m (just!) Requested EWS1 certificate in September, buyer for my flat had offer accepted in December. Finally got the rating on the 17th March but it was B2 so my buyer cannot get a mortgage. This was not due to cladding but due to Kingspan insulation and combustible wooden balcony material. The flat was built in 2014. The balcony material rules came in 2019 and we are waiting to see if the insulation was tested properly by Barratts as that impacts whether it complied with safety regulations at the point it was built. In the meantime, I have no idea how much money will be required by me for a fix, timescales for it, my flat sale is falling through and my move (which was for a job) has been cancelled. Life is completely on hold.

Rakan says:
24 March 2021

Hi everyone,
Looking for some guidance from someone who may have been through the same process as me:
we are trying to convert our current residential mortgage on our flat to a buy-to-let product with the same lender (barclays). We are not attempting to borrow more / release any equity, it is simply a straight product switch to a buy-to-let of the same value.
The block of flats has cladding issues and we do not have an EWS1 yet.

Does anyone know if the bank is likely to approve this on the basis that the risk profile is not changing?

Many thanks

I’m afraid not likely , I’m having very similar issue and stand to loose everything because my current mortgage has expired so very high rates and I’ve tried and failed 3 times to remortgage and banks are flat out refusing to lend all because of the lack of EWS1 form . Basically mortgage prisoners

Clara says:
11 April 2021

Hi, we’re looking to do exactly the same. The building was built in 2017 and there is no cladding on the building at all but there’s dispute if there is combustible material on the balcony. Our lender is requesting a EWS1 form but out leaseholder is refusing to do so. So stuck.

Hi
I have had 3 re mortgages declined now due to this EWS1 . The block I live in is only 15 years old yet despite my flat not having any issues the balconies above me are timber therefore failing on obtaining a EWS1 . We have had the checks and know what work is required but because the work has not been completed yet I am trapped ! Unable to sell , unable to mortgage leaving me stuck and trapped in a high rate expired mortgage with monthly payments I can not afford. Something needs to done as I’m sure it’s not just me but I stand to loose everything over one form! I own my flat but not the building so it’s not fair asking us to pay the huge amount needed to fix it and know one seems to want to help or except responsibility! I hope something changes soon or if anyone knows of any potential changes to this ? My block apparently does not fall into the tiny amount set aside by the government for repairs according to my blocks management company . Which whom I already a substantial amount each month to just for the up keep.

I have contributed to this debate in earlier posts and the whole situation is a nightmare. However, I have just completed on a mortgage and the lender were excellent, conducting the process from end-to-end it only took 1 month. The lender are Virgin Money and have been excellent… after months of hell, I am massively relieved – good luck to everyone caught in this disgraceful chaos!!!

AppleQ says:
26 March 2021

Hi guys I really need your help!
i have found a flat in London and the building is 18m or under, it’s brick but with visible cladding on the top floor.
We asked for EWS1certificate and they don’t have it , but on the fire assessment report (2019)it says that the cladding is non combustible.
Landers are asking for this certificate so we can’t really risk to be rejected for the mortgage.
So What i did, looking on rightmove i have seen other property in the same building represented by other agency so I called them to see what they will say compared to my agent and they said that the building does have EWS1 certificate.
How is this possible? Same building two different answers!? I am confused , would you say there is something dodgy going on? Please help

AppleQ – It’s difficult to answer that question without knowing a lot more, so why don’t you ask the agent you are buying from the same thing? Tell them the results of your own enquiries and see what they say – but bear in mind that they are employed by the seller and, although they are under an obligation to provide a duty of care towards you as a prospective purchaser, they could avoid giving you a definitive answer.

AppleQ says:
27 March 2021

Hi , thank you for your reply.
I’ve sent him an email yesterday and had no answer yet. Funny!
I’ ll wait patiently until Monday and email him again.
But can they lie about these things? It is so frustrating! How risky is buying a property without EWS1 ( with no combustible cladding) if I manage to find a lander? Thank you for your help I really appreciate it

Dan Brown says:
27 March 2021

We had a buyer pull out because she apparently couldn’t get a mortgage. Our freeholder, PEABODY, confirmed in writing that our flat is 11m (under 18m) and that we have cladding that is not of a type that requires Ews1. I.E. not ACM, MCM or HPL panels. But apparently the banks are still not adhering to RICS guidance issued on 8 March saying our flats, which were built in 2012, don’t need an Ews1. Until banks start listening to Gov and RICS, and stop making their own rules up, we won’t be able to sell our flat or get a new rate on our mortgage which is expiring soon. How do we collectively force the banks to see sense…..

I have been one of the more fortunate ones in that we have had an EWS1 confirming the safety of our building since they were first put in place. However, there was some new guidance on the 8th March 2021, whereby some clarification was made by the RICS on a new EWS1 form, around the level of qualification of the signatory.

Despite the RICS clearly stating on their FAQs that this new guidance does not invalidate any existing EWS1 forms, my buyer is struggling to get a mortgage on my flat, as the signatory on my form now falls short of the new guidance.

Amazingly, I’m finding it tough to get through to someone appropriate in the RICS to admit the wrong doing on the lenders part. So now I’m in this horrible situation and not sure what I can do. I imagine others will be having the problem too.

It’s even more frustrating that the mortgage lenders could not even enact the RICS guidance properly, but I would expect the RICS to step in an clarify further.

I bought an off-plan flat from Berkeley Homes in 2018, due to complete this month, however the lender Nationwide is insisting on an EWS1 form. The builder claims the building is exempt and will not provide the certificate. The lender will not release funds without the certificate…kinda stuck – any input to help get this done would be appreciated!

Krishna kadam says:
13 April 2021

Hello,
I am following this comment section for EWS1 form as i am hoping to purchase a second floor flat which has only a small amount of cladding. The lenders wont lend without a EWS1 form so i am stuck.
Can i hire a consultant to provide me a EWS1 form and assessment and will that be acceptable ?

Thanks in Advance
Krish

Hello. We have a buyer. Our flat is under 18m, we have a letter from mgt company confirming we do not have aluminium combustible cladding, but lenders still insisting on the EWS. Directors of our management company are not authorising EWS because, apparently, banks are authorising mortgages without the need for an EWS!! Well, which ones?? That’s the million dollar question.

Whit says:
16 April 2021

New Build Database are currently compiling a list of Mortgage Lenders and their criteria.

Look them up on twitter @nbdbuk – they tweeted a list on 17th March

Thanks for mentioning the work we do Whit. You can find our newsletter and overview of Lenders policy here https://twitter.com/nbdbuk/status/1380943758586437636?s=20

John Pyke says:
20 April 2021

Lenders are ignoring the latest RICS guidance and still insisting on an EWS1 form before granting a mortgage. Surely the only way forward is to expose these conditions and get lenders to explain their rationale. Maybe if this information was published the Government instead of blithely saying the market has been eased the truth will out!