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EWS1 bottleneck spreading to secondhand homes

The EWS1 bottleneck familiar to the new-build market has started spilling into the secondhand homes market, an agent claims.

New-build homeowners have struggled to sell their properties in recent years due to strict rules that buildings above a certain height should have their external wall cladding checked and approved with an EWS1 (External Wall System Fire Review) certificate.

This is blamed on delays in getting qualified surveyors to conduct checks and while the EWS1 is not a legal requirement, mortgage providers are unwilling to lend on certain properties that do not have certification because the fire risk is deemed too high


Marc von Grundherr, director of London agent Benham and Reeves, claims this issue is spilling into the wider housing market.

He claims lenders are refusing to provide finance without an EWS1, which is causing delays, pushing up fall-through rates and trapping people in homes they cannot sell.

In the past year alone, fall-throughs have increased by 3.6%, from 87,063 in the third     quarter of 2021 to 90,188 in Q3 2022. 

That is an increase that Benham and Reeves believes has been contributed to by EWS1 delays.

The agent said this impacts the sale of some 5,000 flats on a quarterly basis alone, 60,000 a year, all of which are getting tied up in EWS1 complications rather than being successfully bought and sold. 

To combat this, he suggests the EWS1 form should be incorporated into the standard Fire Risk Assessment rather than being a standalone certification.

He said: “I don’t think anyone is arguing the necessity of EWS1 certification however, its implementation has proved extremely problematic from an operational point of view and we certainly need to consider how this can be improved moving forwards and how the industry can adapt to better facilitate the process. 

“One solution is to incorporate it into the existing Fire Risk Assessment process and in doing so, we believe the substantial waiting times that buyers and sellers are enduring at the moment can be reduced by quite some margin.

“Of course, what we really need is a fit for purpose housing minister and one that is going to remain in the role on a long-term basis in order to address the many issues facing the sector today.” 


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