Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, the Government changed its building safety guidelines by issuing a series of advice notes. These advice notes are intended to give building owners clear guidance about how to make sure their properties are constructed and maintained safely. In January 2020 they were consolidated and updated into one single advice note which has much wider implications.

Since the summer, mortgage lenders have begun making extra requests of people who apply for mortgages on properties in purpose-built blocks. They want applicants to provide independent certification that the property meets the requirements of the government’s advice notes, known as an External Wall Survey (EWS1).

In general these advice notes and EWS1 apply to blocks that are 18 metres or more in height. Find out more here

How does a building get certification?

To get the certification, under the new process agreed by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, UK Finance and the Building Societies Association, building owners must employ a specialist fire engineer to carry out intrusive tests of the building structure. Doing this involves ‘opening up’ the building and testing all the materials used in its construction to make sure they meet the new guidance.

If this process can be completed conclusively, the results then need to be analysed. Then the building owners need to plan, procure, cost and carry out any work that is needed before the certification requested can be provided. This is a complex and lengthy process. This is also complicated by the limited number of qualified fire experts who are needed to assess buildings, carry out inspections and confirm whether remediation work is required.

Given the extent of the new guidance issued in January 2020 most freeholders predict that buildings will need remedial work.

What does this mean?

Some lenders have taken the view that if independent certification cannot be provided to demonstrate compliance, they won’t offer a mortgage. This may mean that the leaseholder, or a prospective purchaser of their home, will not currently be able to secure a new mortgage against the property.

Town & Country Housing is committed to implementing the recommendations from the review of building safety. The safety of our residents is our utmost priority. We’re continuing to undertake reports and works on buildings where we have already identified issues.

We would like to apologise to those residents who will need to wait for their building to be inspected – we know how difficult this situation is for you.

Got a question? Contact us here