The government and mortgage lenders have backed changes to EWS1 form rules after research finds an absence of “systemic risk of fire” in smaller tower blocks.
EWS1 forms will no longer be required for buildings below 18m in height, the government has said, with Housing secretary Robert Jenrick calling the move a “significant intervention” by government and lenders.
The decision comes after an expert panel commissioned by the government found no “systemic risk” of fire in smaller blocks.
The government now recommends a more “proportionate and evidence-based” approach to fire safety.
It said risk should be managed through measures such as alarm systems or sprinklers, and that most medium- and low-rise buildings (those under 18m in height) wrapped in cladding should not require expensive remediation.
The government said the the changes would help to “unlock” the housing market.
Lenders HSBC, Barclays, and Lloyds have supported the move.
The EWS1 form was introduced in 2019 in response to the Grenfell tower fire which killed 72 people in 2017.
It was intended to record in a consistent way which assessments have been conducted on the external wall construction of residential buildings.
Lenders have asked for EWS1 forms to be completed to allow them to value the properties.
However, a lack of accurate information about blocks, particularly smaller blocks, which have often not been prioritised for fire safety work, has led to difficulties in getting blocks valued.
This has also meant leaseholders have struggled to sell or remortgage their homes.
Although Geeta Nanda, chair of the G15, welcomed the announcement, she said: “Ensuring this guidance is adhered to by lenders and insurers remains the critical issue, and we look forward to working with government, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, and others to make sure this happens.”
While Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, also welcomed the development; she called on the government to provide upfront funding to protect leaseholders and social housing residents from costs where safety works are still required.
Image: Richard M Lee/Shutterstock
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