New EWS1 consumer guidance on building safety and cladding

We’ve launched new guidance to help home buyers and sellers to understand building safety and cladding issues.

If you have clients who are selling or buying properties that may involve EWS1 fire safety certificates, then you may want to share this information with your clients.

Explore our new guidance: building safety for flat buyers

Background

The Grenfell Tower inquiry is ongoing, and the government has been introducing new measures in response.

These measures include:

  • a five-point plan for building regulation, which includes a commitment to protect leaseholders from the cost of replacing unsafe cladding
  • the Fire Safety Act 2021, which has now received royal assent and requires all responsible persons to assess, manage and reduce fire risks in residential buildings (including in relation to external walls and cladding)
  • the Building Safety Bill, published on 5 July 2021 along with the launch of the new Building Safety Regulator, which will oversee new regulations
  • the planning for the future white paper, which aims to streamline and modernise the planning system in England

We understand that these changes have been causing some confusion and difficulties in the home buying and selling market.

We hope that you and your clients will find this new guidance helpful.

About the guidance

The guidance covers:

  • the issues to be investigated before the transaction proceeds, who can conduct the investigation and what solicitors can do to help
  • fire risk assessments
  • the EWS1 form
  • the types of buildings that can be affected and the effects of different ownership models of these buildings
  • buildings insurance
  • government grants

The government recently published a ministerial statement and an independent expert statement suggesting that an EWS1 is not required on buildings below 18 metres in height, that is, medium- and low-rise blocks.

However, a ministerial statement is not law or formal government guidance. Also, it seems likely that lenders will remain cautious when looking to lend on buildings that may have additional risk factors, even if they are less than 18 metres tall.

We expect the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to review its guidance following the ministerial statement, and we'll provide updates as and when information is available.

Get involved

The Building Safety Bill is currently going through parliament, with its second reading held on 21 July 2021.

There are some concerns about how the bill will operate and we’re involved with the parliamentary process.

If you have views on the bill you would like to be considered in our future parliamentary briefings, or any comments on our new guidance, email property@lawsociety.org.uk.

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