86% of them failed badly enough to require urgent measures, such as waking watch
2.8 million flats need EWS1 reports, and are unlikely to sell without one
About 2.8 million flats need an EWS1 survey before they can be sold, but many will not be sellable when they finally get one either, according to an LKP survey of 512 cladding sites across England.
The survey was carried out between June 9 and August 6 2020 and is based on analysis of the 783 responses.
The results show that 90% of the cladding sites that have had an EWS1 survey require remediation with either a B2 or A3 rating. 86% had the worst result of B2 with unsafe cladding, requiring immediate measures that might include waking watch – the cost of which falls on leaseholders.
Since the Grenfell disaster mortgage lenders cannot rely on a building regulations sign-off that a block of flats is actually safe.
Throughout 2019 mortgage companies were receiving zero valuations from surveyors who did not know whether a building was safe or not.
As a result, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, lenders and others in the sector came up with EWS1 surveys.
These were initially envisaged only for buildings above 18 metres, but are now routinely demanded by mortgage lenders on lower rise blocks as well.
The result is an impasse, with Peabody housing association even telling one desperate seller of a flat in a low rise block that it might take 10 years before an EWS1 survey is carried out.
The government has conceded that there are only 291 qulaified surveyors in the country who can carry one out.
The government also believes that 900,000 to 1,000,000 residents live in high rise blocks; there are 11,300 of them in England and 2,155 of them have cladding issues.
Who is to blame?
The government blames developers, most recently to the Communities Select Committee:
“Ultimately, we are dealing with a failure of industry first and foremost
over many years—over many decades—to take fire safety seriously.”
The developers blame government regulatory failure; RICS references “a failure of statutory building regulations and their enforcement”; and the Public Accounts [Select] Committee declares:
“The Department accepts that the building regulation system it oversees, which should ensure that high-rise buildings are safe to live in, has been ‘not fit for purpose’ for years.”
Government is now saying that: “We share homeowners’ concerns and do not support the blanket use of EWS1 forms. We encourage lenders to accept other forms of assessment in relation to external walls.”
Well, if not EWS1 what should lenders use, given that mortgage lenders have shown what they think of government regulations?
The survey can be read and downloaded here: