New guidance has been released aimed at reducing the number of wall safety surveys being requested by banks and building societies on blocks of flats as thousands of flat owners have been unable to sell or remortgage because they cannot get the checks done.
The checks were first developed to assess the potential financial impact of cladding on high-rise flats, after 72 people died at Grenfell Tower. To begin with, only those who owned flats in tall buildings with dangerous flammable cladding were affected.
But after the government extended its advice to smaller properties in January 2020, mortgage lenders began demanding fire surveys from a much wider range of sellers. As a result, hundreds of thousands of leaseholders have since been asked for EWS1 external wall safety forms when they sell or remortgage. This requires a specialist survey - but there haven't been enough qualified surveyors to do the checks, leaving thousands of owners ‘in limbo’, according to the government.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has now announced that it will help lenders save time when the inspections were not needed. Most lenders are likely to follow the advice but there is no guarantee.
According to RICS, this is a crucial step forward in unlocking the flat market for buyers and sellers. The new guidance Valuation of properties in multi-storey, multi-occupancy residential buildings with cladding, clarifies types of properties which will, and those which will not, require additional inspections, as a result of concerns about fire safety.