RICS issues updated guidance on EWS1 certification

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Ruth Armstrong and Andrew Johnson from Gateley take a look at RICS’ new guidance on the EWS1 certification

After the initial problems caused by the EWS1 certification last year, RICS has issued new guidance to cut through some of the issues.

The guidance has been welcomed by Government with Robert Jenrick saying 500,000 apartments will no longer need EWS1 certifications.

When the EWS1 certification process was announced last year, the intention was to provide certainty for building owners and occupiers as well as lenders and insurers around fire safety of high rise apartment blocks.

Instead, it caused all manner of problems because very few professionals were actually insured to provide EWS1 certificates but there was considerably more demand than could be addressed. Even buildings where cladding was not an issue at all were suddenly clambering for EWS1 certification because lenders and insurers were insisting on them. As a result, leaseholders, potential buyers and everyone else involved were effectively being held to ransom unnecessarily.

The criteria for buildings requiring EWS1s falls into three broad categories:

The new guidance issued by RICS this week takes a much more pragmatic risk-based approach to the scenarios where an EWS1 certification might be necessary by providing some clear criteria.

  • Buildings over 6-storeys where there is cladding, curtain wall glazing or vertically stacked balconies:
  • Buildings of 5 or 6-storeys where there is a significant amount of cladding (25% plus of the whole of one elevation), ACM MCM or HPL panels or vertically stacked balconies; and
  • Buildings of 4-storeys or fewer where there are ACM, MCM or HPL panels.

The criteria set out above will significantly reduce the number of cases where valuers cannot proceed without further investigation and therefore reduce the number of cases where EWS1 certification is required. It should result in a much-needed release of the log jam in the apartment sale market at the moment and enable a lot of leaseholders to move forward with sale or remortgaging of their properties during the current stamp duty window.

Would you like further information regarding the updated guidance?

If you would like further information regarding the updated guidance on the EWS1 certification you can get in touch with Gateley’s fire and cladding team.

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