Housing sector

Housing sector warns that no progress has been made on abandoning the use of EWS1 forms | News

Housing and property bosses have warned the government that no progress has been made in moving to a more proportionate approach to flat assessments, two months after the government announced measures to tackle to the problem.

The Homebuilders Federation, the British Property Federation and the Housing Forum warned this week in a joint letter to the Director General of the Department for Leveling, Housing and Communities, Richard Goodman, that there could be have “little practical benefit” for tenants from existing moves, without further government intervention.

In January, the government withdrew its Consolidated Information Notice (CAN) which was widely interpreted as recommending the use of Exterior Wall Fire Review Forms (EWS1) on all residential towers. The requirements for EWS1 forms have been blamed by many for the difficulties tenants have in getting their apartments appraised and mortgaged.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove withdrew CAN in January and advocated a more proportionate approach based on a new standard called PAS9980 produced by the British Standards Institute.

However, in this week’s joint letter, Stewart Baseley, Chairman of HBF, Ian Fletcher, Policy Director of BPF, and Stephen Teagle, Chairman of the Housing Forum, warned that we “fall far short of establishing or defining this which represents a proportionate approach”. building safety”.

The letter read: “The PAS9980 principles have not yet been adopted by surveyors and mortgage lenders, which means that building owners and tenants are still dependent on EWS1 forms as their primary means of assigning security status to the building. building. We now understand that the EWS1 assessment will likely replace the ‘common sense’ approach promoted through BSI’s PAS9980. »

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He added that the “dual assessment criteria” now lead to more confusion and delay for tenants.

He said: “Even with new legislation and additional commitments from UK homebuilders and product manufacturers, without integrating a more proportionate approach and bringing it into line with building mortgages and insurability, it It is possible that after even more time and considerable expense by all parties, including the government, we will see little practical benefit for tenants.

The letter follows the director of mortgages at commercial lender UK Finance, Charles Roe, who told Parliament in February that EWS1 forms will still be used for several years until fire risk assessments are completed. under the new fire safety law are completed on all buildings.

The Department of Upgrading, Housing and Communities select committee this morning said in a report on measures to tackle the surfacing crisis that they were concerned about exactly the same issue. The report states: “Given that the introduction of PAS 9980 will not result in the elimination of EWS1 forms, we remain concerned that uncertainty will persist over building safety and will continue to hamper those attempting to sell their house.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said last summer that EWS1 forms should not be required on blocks under 18m. However, it later emerged that lenders’ support for Jenrick’s decision was tentative, with RICS changing its guidance to assessors and the government withdrawing the CAN.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in December rejected a government call to change its guidelines, saying it had a responsibility to buyers to ensure they could be sure they were not buying something that would later become a liability. However, he did not rule out changing it in the future.