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Will relaxed EWS1 safety checks allow thousands of flats to be sold?

Safety checks which are apparently now preventing thousands of owners selling flats are to be eased - but there is confusion over how this will help the market. 

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced over the weekend that homes without cladding would no longer need an EWS1 external wall safety certificate - paperwork which involves a survey.

Legally EWS1 forms have not been required for buildings without cladding but some vendors and buyers have been asked to obtain an EWS form to satisfy mortgage requirements since the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017.


However, yesterday some mortgage bodies said they “did not consent" to Jenrick’s latest announcement, leaving flat sellers once again in limbo. 

The government suggests that with only 300 qualified surveyors able to issue the EWS paperwork for hundreds of thousands of properties, many owners have been unable to sell or remortgage over the past three years.

Jenrick adds that with the help of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors he has secured agreement that the survey would not be needed in future for homes without cladding.

"Through no fault of their own, some flat owners have been unable to sell or remortgage their homes, and this cannot be allowed to continue” says Jenrick, who believes the change could affect up to 450,000 homeowners.

Sean Tompkins, RICS chief executive, says of the surveyor shortage: “We are aware of the severe impact this has had on some homeowners and we agree that buildings without cladding should not be subject to the process.”

However, the backing of lenders appears to be required for sales to progress, and the UK Cladding Action Group has told the BBC that only a "small subset" of buildings would benefit from the government announcement.


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