Helping lenders value residential properties
If you own a flat in a block and want to sell or remortgage your property, you might need an External Wall System (EWS1) form.
The form was developed by the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and UK Finance to help lenders fairly assess how much a property is worth.
The EWS1 form isn’t a legal requirement or a safety record and the requirements for getting one are constantly changing. So please check our useful information below. If you still can’t find what you need, you can contact us or use the links below to find out more.
What is an External Wall System (EWS)?
An External Wall System is the outside wall of a residential building. As well as cladding, which you’ll have heard a lot about in the media, it also relates to bricks. It includes the insulation between any cladding panels and the walls and other fire-stopping measures.
What is an EWS1 form?
The EWS1 form was introduced by (RICS) and UK Finance in December 2019 to provide lenders with sufficient detail about potential remediation costs. Initially, the rules related to buildings over 18m tall but were expanded to include buildings over 11m tall in April 2021. For more information see the RICS website.
Why is getting an EWS1 form an issue for leaseholders?
Currently there is a significant wait to get an EWS1 form. This is due to the acute shortage of fire safety engineers who can carry out the checks required to issue the form.
What is the latest position from lenders on buildings over 11m?
As of 9 January 2023, six high street banks - Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide, NatWest and Santander – no longer require EWS1 forms as long as leaseholders can provide evidence that:
- The developer has committed to correct any issues themselves. (Check this list of developers who have signed the government's legally-binding contract.
- The building is covered by one of the recognised government schemes (the Developer Remediation Contracts or the Medium Rise Scheme or the Building Safety Fund).
- The leaseholder is protected under the Building Safety Act and has a deed of certificate. See the government website to download a certificate and for information on how to fill it out. If you want to send us a copy, please email it to email@example.com. Alternatively, you can post it to Peabody, 45 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7JB. (Once we’ve received it, we’ll keep it on file.)
Lenders will continue to lend and approve mortgages where an EWS1 form or equivalent assessment shows that remediation is not required (A1, A2 or B1 rating).
Please note that individual lender eligibility criteria and lending policies will still apply.
When is an EWS1 form needed?
Based on the current RICS guidance, EWS1 forms are needed:
For buildings over six storeys where:
- There’s cladding or curtain wall glazing on the building.
- There are balconies that stack vertically above each other and either both the balustrades and decking are constructed with combustible materials, such as timber, or the decking is constructed with combustible materials and the balconies are directly linked by combustible material.
For buildings of five or six storeys where:
- There’s a significant amount of cladding on the building. (For the purpose of this guidance, a significant amount is considered to be approximately one-quarter of the whole elevation as viewed when standing at ground level).
- There are aluminium composite materials (ACM), metal composite materials (MCM) or high pressure laminate (HPL) panels on the building.
- There are balconies that stack vertically above each other and either both the balustrades and decking are constructed with combustible materials, such as timber, or the decking is constructed with combustible materials and the balconies are directly linked by combustible materials.
For buildings of four storeys or fewer where:
- There are ACM, MCM or HPL panels on the building.
You can find details of the latest RICS guidance here.
Are building owners legally obliged to provide EWS1 forms?
EWS surveys are discretionary and there’s no statutory or automatic obligation for landlords to carry them out or provide copies of EWS1 forms to leaseholders. However, at Peabody we’re committed to supporting our leaseholders. So we have a full investigation and remediation programme that ensures all our buildings are safe and EWS1 forms are issued where required under current RICS criteria.
How long is an EWS1 form valid for?
An EWS1 form is valid for up to five years from the date that it’s signed. If any significant changes are made to the external wall during those five years, it will need to be assessed again.
When will my building be issued with an EWS1 form?
We’ve prioritised our current three-year investigation programme based on safety factors, including height and type of cladding used. We expect to have completed those that fall within the government’s current building safety guidance by the end of 2023.
We’re writing to all residents in the programme to let them know when we expect to have completed their building’s investigation and, where applicable, issued an EWS1 form.
What can I do if a lender asks for an EWS1 form when it’s not needed?
If you’re looking to sell or staircase, and have an issue with your lender, please contact our Customer hub on 0300 123 3456. We’ll provide you with a letter stating why your building does not require an EWS1 form.
Can I organise an EWS survey for my building?
Lenders will only accept an EWS1 form that’s been completed by a competent professional and organised by the building owner, freeholder or managing agent. Leaseholders don’t have the legal right to carry out the survey or to instruct a surveyor to do it for you.
Why has Peabody completed an EWS1 form when my building is below 18m in height?
Due to the as-of-yet unclear nature of the rules, some lenders are still asking for forms for buildings regardless of their height and safety issues. Once the new guidance, issued in March 2021, has been properly clarified, it’s thought that fewer buildings will require an EWS1 form.
Can I rent out my property until it’s possible to sell it?
Can I nominate a fire engineer?
You can nominate a fire engineer, but they need to comply with certain criteria. That’s because as a housing association, Peabody and its subsidiaries are governed by public law and have to follow the Public Contract Regulations. You can find out more about these and our procurement process here. Basically, when a particular category of spend (in this case fire engineering consultancy) is more than the amount set in these regulations, we have to follow a compliant procurement route. We also have to ensure any organisation is listed on the IFE register of Chartered Engineers and considered competent by the MHCLG.
Who pays for the EWS1 survey?
At the moment we’re covering the costs of the survey. But we can’t guarantee this will always be the case as we’ve identified 490 residential buildings that need in-depth investigation and assessment in the next three years. This means that like other housing associations, we may at some point need to start charging.