/ 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?

04/05/2021: Take our survey

Which? has launched a survey of leaseholders caught up in the UK’s ongoing cladding and building safety crisis.

Take the Which? leaseholder cladding survey here

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…..

Teti says:
28 May 2021

I have the same issue. Building below 11m. only 3 storeys – lender will not issue mortgage offer without ESW1 form

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.

Hi, I am in a similar situation you described. I finally able to buy my first property under the share-ownership scheme. The flat has already a EWS1 form and all seem to be fine, however Barclays bank is refusing to give me a mortgage. They insist it require a different signature and the housing association insisted that is the right professional who signed. In the meantime my dream of owning a tiny flat in London is looking obscure now. I am not even sure if I want to go ahead with this.

Tarek, the revised RICS signatory guidance issued 8th March actually increased the pool of potential signatories. What has actually happened over the last year is the lenders have tightened up their interpretation of poorly worded guidance in response to incompetent/fraudulent EWS1 survey firms forming erroneous conclusions.

Assuming you have a B1 graded EWS1 that is not signed by a CEng or IEng member of the Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE) if this is the case your EWS1 has never met guidance.

The EWS1 process is a basket on many fronts that unfortunately the RICS will not take ownership for resolving.

Thank for the information. The property I am trying to buy has been rating A1 and the bank still not giving me a mortgage. I don’t know what to do.

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!

HC says:
10 June 2021

Hi Kevin, Nationwide is my current lender and I’ve been trying to remortgage/staircase with them for the last year. I was hoping with the new guidance released in march that I’d actually be able to proceed now, but I spoke to Nationwide today and they have not adopted the new guidance and are leaving it to the discretion of their valuers. In addition, my housing association also won’t provide an EWS1 form, because according to the new guidance our building doesn’t require one! So I would recommend looking for another lender, which is what I’m going to do.

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

No. EWS1 can only be commissioned by the building owner / manager unfortunately. If they are unwilling to commission a survey then it is unlikely you will be able to progress with your purchase.

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.

Teti says:
29 May 2021

Exactly – which one is it – banks say EWSI – mgt companies it is not a problem you will get a mortgage. I just applied for one – cannot get a mortgage offer without a certificate.

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

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!

I tried to take equity out of my home built 17yrs ago, It is detached with no near neighbours. The cladding on my house is Hardiplank, a non combustible material with A2 rating used world wide. No company would consider releasing any money, and even said it would be hard for anyone to get a mortgage if I wanted to sell . My house was valued at £550.000 before all this. I am making enquiries into getting a EWS certificate but it will be quite expensive. This law is not just for flats it could effect many many homes as it stands now. if any one knows differently please could you let me know.

PShah says:
29 April 2021

Reading all the comments I am realising that this is a huge thing affecting so many home owners. Our neighbours sale most likely going to fall through as lender want EWS1 for block less than 18m high but with timber balcony. Where will it end? What about timber doorframes, timber window frames, timber decking? Not even sure what we are supposed to do next as the rules keep on changing frequently and the lenders are making up their own rules too. Really need Which?s help to sort this out.

Hi, I have already posted on the first page but realised I should of posted at this end. The question I would like to ask is am I the only person on here to have a detached house valued at £0 , Before Grenville it was around £500.000. It is clad in Hardiplank, a non combustible material. How can a two story house with no near neighbours be valued the same as a block of flats. My heart goes out to all of you in this dreadful situation.

I am sorry if someone has already answered this question, but I have a flat that has an EWS1 rated B2. We have outgrown the flat and ultimately need to sell but probably have to wait until the remedial work is done. Will my mortgage lender be likely grant a consent to let on this basis?

We also want to switch to a better mortgage rate after our fixed rate expired. Has anyone had any issues with product transfers with homes with EWS1 B2 ratings? And would we have to do this before seeking consent to let?

Liv – I would hope your current mortgagee would be sympathetic to your letting out your flat given the current circumstances but each lender has their own policies and you might need to transfer your mortgage if your present lender will not agree. If that is the case, as well as asking building societies and banks it might also be worth considering a mortgage loan from an insurance company if you have a life assurance policy. It is recommended that you take independent advice before committing yourself to any particular course of action.

Sarah Schippers says:
24 May 2021

In our building (just under 18m) a lot of people are unable to remortgage or sell. We have to stay with our current lenders (not the best rates), but in our case we are not sure if that’s even possible.

NS says:
29 May 2021

For any remedial works to be carried out, would the freeholder need an EWS1 form after an inspection? We are getting work done as there is obviously a problem but the freeholder is claiming they don’t have the EWS1 form. So how do they know which rating it is and what work needs to be carried out? They refuse to provide us a copy. Putting us in great difficulty. We should be allowed to have a copy by law!

Any advice is appreciated.

RR says:
29 May 2021

Does anyone know if you can get a mortgage with a letter of assurance from the managing agent/freeholder outlining the remedial work required, timeline for completion and that they will pay for the cost involved. We had a B2 rating but following the remedial work, we should get a B1 rating. In the meantime, we have this letter of assurance. Would this letter help us get a mortgage in the meantime? Any advise is appreciated.

Hi all, I live in a block of flats converted from offices in 2018, with an EWS1 form from 2019. I am selling my flat. My buyer has approached Halifax for a mortgage whose surveyor has rejected the form. However, 2 other buyers in the last month have bought in our block with the same lender, using the same form. How can it be the case that the form is valid for some flats but not others? We’re about to lose the house we’re buying and our buyers are out of lenders for their mortgage…

Sam Puncher says:
3 June 2021

Flat is less than 5 storeys. Less than 18m and has no cladding but on the verge of my 2nd sale falling through due to lenders asking for EWS1 form even though my management company are saying they don’t legally need one due to the building size.

Feel helpless and at rock bottom with another sale falling through due to circumstances completely out of my control.