Home world Michael Gove's promise to free cladding victims falls flat

Michael Gove’s promise to free cladding victims falls flat

Surveyors and lenders have rejected the Government’s move to free hundreds of thousands of flat owners from cladding turmoil by refusing to change their fire safety policy.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove changed a bureaucratic technicality which should make it easier for flats in buildings under 18 metres to be sold.

But this failed to convince lenders and surveyors to change their building safety policy, which said they would continue to require a fire safety check to lend on flats in mid-rise buildings. 

Mr Gove withdrew a two-year-old “consolidated advice note” which required External Wall System 1 (EWS1) forms –  fire safety paperwork necessary to sell flats in modern blocks – regardless of the building’s height. This had ensnared flat owners in blocks under 18 metres into the cladding crisis, which had previously not had to have such checks in order to be mortgageable.

Now, valuers and lenders have so far refused to change their guidance and lend without an EWS1 form, rendering Mr Gove’s change effectively meaningless.

A spokesperson for UK Finance, a banking trade body, said: “As part of their regulatory lending responsibilities, lenders will continue to request EWS1 forms in a small number of cases, and the Government understands the need for this. 

“EWS1 forms benefit potential buyers, ensuring they are not hit with unexpected or unaffordable cladding remediation bills.”

Meanwhile the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, a trade body for valuers, has doubled down on its guidance to request EWS1 checks on blocks below 18 metres. 

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