Homeowners living in apartment blocks



Information on remortgaging, selling, and staircasing.

If you’re planning to change your mortgage, are thinking of selling, or want to buy more shares in your home, you need to consider that many lenders have now made changes to their conditions.

Mortgage lenders are increasingly querying the make-up of external walls on buildings. These queries cover all building types and not just those with cladded materials on the exterior.

Many lenders now require an EWS1 Form, which is the industry template for recording details of the fire safety of a building’s external wall system.

These changes follow the Grenfell Tower fire and the Government releasing a number of building safety advice notes.
 

The EWS1 Form explained

In order to complete an EWS1 Form, a suitably qualified professional must conduct a fire safety assessment and confirm their findings on the form. 

The form will help ensure information relating to the assessment of external wall systems is recorded consistently. 

The aim of the form is to deliver assurance on the construction of a building’s external wall for lenders and their valuers. 

Only one assessment and form is required for each building and, currently, these will be valid for five years.
 

What we’re doing

We’re starting a phased testing programme for our high-rise buildings. Those buildings we believe to be higher risk will be completed first.

We’ve employed Fire Engineers to carrying out the testing. This will involve surveys of the construction of the external wall system and highlighting if there’s any need for remediation works. In most instances, this will involve intrusive testing by ‘opening up’ the building and testing all the materials used in its construction to ensure they meet the new guidance. We’re also asking our Fire Engineers to complete an EWS1 Form for the building.

The first phase has already started.

Due to the high level of demand for the services of a small pool of suitably qualified experts, it will take time for these surveys to be completed. We anticipate it will take several years to deliver the programme of testing and complete the remediation work.

We complete regular Fire Risk Assessments for our apartment blocks, and complete any recommendations from the assessor built as part of the action plan for the building. You can request a copy of the Fire Risk Assessment here.

Request your report
 

What if Optivo isn’t the freeholder?


In these cases, Optivo may not be responsible for the exterior of the building. We’re in regular contact with freeholders and managing agents for these buildings, and are encouraging them to complete testing and produce EWS1 Forms.
 

What does this mean for Homeowners?

We’re finding most mortgage lenders are requesting an EWS1 Form before signing off a mortgage. Depending on where you live, this may mean you’re not able to staircase, remortgage or sell your home at the current time.

However, not all mortgage lenders are applying the same criteria so it is worth shopping around. This issue is unlikely to affect transactions where there is not a mortgage.

We realise this may be difficult news for our homeowners, and are very sorry this could leave you in a difficult position. Together with our partners in the sector, we’re doing everything we can to find a way forward with the Government. 
 

What can Optivo do to help?

We’re discussing this on a case-by-case basis with homeowners who are currently in the staircasing, remortgaging, or sale process. We’d encourage any homeowner who’s looking to staircase, remortgage, or sell their property to contact us first before incurring any fees for legal or financial advice.
 

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