Mortgage lenders are to ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the installation of External Wall Systems (EWS) on the ability of leaseholders to sell properties fitted with flammable cladding.
In response to a question in Parliament earlier this week, Housing Minister Christopher Pincher has confirmed that mortgage lenders are to review their use of External Wall System or EWS1 forms.
The Housing Minister said the Government is aware that some lenders are requesting valuers use the EWS1 form on a wider scope of buildings than was intended and he accepted that “this may be having a negative effect on the mortgage market for such buildings”; a master[piece of understatement, given that hundreds of leaseholders around the country are finding it impossible to move or re-mortgage as a result of these forms.
However, the situation may be improving now that the Minister for Building Safety has held a roundtable with mortgage lenders, who agreed a more “nuanced approach to risk is required”. According to Christopher Pincher, they are reviewing their policies and guidance to valuers on the use of the form. If true, we hope any re-think is quickly translated into action for those flat owners who are desperate to sell their homes but whose flats have been blighted by zero valuations from mortgage lenders.
Ringley Group MD Maryanne Bowring is an expert speaker on the topic of EWS1 forms and their impact on the leasehold market. She says “I have heard of a case where a mortgage valuer requested an EWS1 form on a bungalow – which seems just blatant abuse of the intended purpose. Since government guidance changed to require that ‘anything that assists a fire’ on the ‘external wall system’ needs to be addressed, and that this applies to all buildings irrespective of height, the common sense principle of means of escape certainly in lower-rise buildings seems to have been wholly overlooked”.
We support a review of guidance and are concerned as to the blight affecting many homeowners, not only struggling to sell but to remortgage too.