/ 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
Simon says:
8 December 2021

We are trying to sell our leasehold maisonette which is part of a block under 18 meters with no obvious cladding. We have a buyer, we have had an offer accepted on a new build and it wasn’t until quite late in the process, when the buyer was trying to finalise his mortgage that the subject of EWS1 has come up as his lender is insisting on it, or proof that one isn’t needed (though I feel the only proof is to have an EWS1 survey done).

We are somewhat fortunate that our landlord/management company are in the process of getting an EWS1 survey done, however it is most likely it is going to take too long to be completed so we will likely lose all the money we have already spent and lose the house we wanted to buy.

My biggest complaint about this whole thing is that no one seemed to be aware of this even being an issue, not the estate agent selling our property, not the property developer we are trying to buy from (which vetted us to ensure we were acceptable buyers), not our solicitor, or the buyers solicitor. We had one passing comment from a potential buyer asking if an EWS1 form was available, at the time the management company didn’t think it was required, that buyer said nothing more and we thought nothing more of it. Really the estate agents should be more aware of this, they waste a lot of time and get nothing for a property they cannot sell.

Had anyone mentioned this to us we would not have even bothered putting our property on the market until this was in place, essentially at the moment we could only have sold to a cash buyer.

Hi everyone,

I’ve posted here previously but wanted to let you know I’m currently remortgaging (and staircasing) with Halifax and they didn’t ask for an EWS1!
My current lender is Nationwide, who refused without the EWS1, and I also tried TSB and Skipton previously – all wanted EWS1s. Technically my flat/building doesn’t meet the requirements for one: <25% cladding (mostly around the top storey), <18m tall, balconies aren't linked and 3-5 storeys across the building and because of this my housing association are not going to arrange for an EWS1. I think I was lucky in that the valuer who came round seemed really sensible and practical.
Hope that helps!

what a great news. may i know which city you are living? i m trying to do the same but not sure if I staircase any longer and in future have trouble of staircasing. i was thinking of remortgaging for 5 yrs.

Just had a flat (new build, 6 stories) that I was purchasing rejected by the 2nd lenders i’ve applied to. The first was Halifax, they did not provide a reason, just that they would not lend on the building. The second was Leek Building society. This time they said that the EWS1 form for the property had option B1 and so this would mean that they were not going to lend.

This is frustrating for a number of reasons:
Firstly, one of the first things I asked the developer when viewing the property was if it had any issues, such as cladding or would need an EWS1. He said categorically that it did not. So to be told that this property infact has an EWS1 form already means that either the developer is an ignoramous or a liar.

I have found a third lender willing to lend with an EWS1 option B1 but I am now very weary about proceeding with this purchase- Or any leaseholds for that matter.

Hi, may I ask which lender you found willing to lend? I’m in the same situation.

Hi, may I ask which lender is willing to lend? I’m in the same situation.