Planning and building control

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Building Safety Programme

EWS Certification

Following a review of Building Regulations & Fire Safety conducted by Dame Judith Hackitt and the future new upcoming Fire Safety Bill and Building Safety Bill, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) advised building owners to investigate the external fabric of their buildings to check whether any combustible materials have been used.

After the advice was given, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) created a review and certification process known as External Wall Systems Fire Review (EWS1), in collaboration with the Building Societies Association (BSA) and UK Finance. This was endorsed by the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM) and the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA), giving it greater credence. Unfortunately, the collaboration did not include Southwark Council or any housing providers or local authorities.

The EWS1 is not a legal requirement. However, due to MHCLG, BSA and UK Finance being supportive of the EWS1, many mortgage lenders have required an EWS1 for any purchase of a dwelling within a residential block. This was affecting the ability of many leaseholders to sell their property.

During July 2021, the government announced that EWS1 should not be required for buildings which are lower than 18 metres

The council has received many requests for EWS1 certification. So far, we've been unable to provide these - due to the national demand for EWS1 certificates, there has been a shortage suitably qualified specialists required to undertake the process. This makes it difficult to identify and procure suitable contractors, increases the overall timescales for conducting the inspection process and raises the costs involved. We'd like to offer sincere apologies to everyone affected by this.

In the future, following the advice from the government, we'll only be able provide EWS1 certification for buildings that are both 18 metres or higher and within the RICS requirement guidance for EWS1

These certificates will be provided as we conduct our discovery programme. The programme should begin during September 2021 and further details will be published after the Council’s Cabinet meeting.

Again we'd like to apologise to all those affected by this issue, and assure you that we're doing everything possible to rectify the situation.

For further support and advice for homeowners, email MSHO advocacy.

Page last updated: 30 July 2021

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