23 July 2021

A panel commissioned by the government has found there is ‘no systemic risk of fire’ in smaller blocks, resulting in the EWS1 forms being scrapped for lower rise blocks.

The advice states that fire risk should be managed through alarm systems and sprinklers wherever possible, and added that the majority of the low to medium-rise blocks with cladding need not be remediated.

The move has been supported by National Fire Chiefs Council and Institute of Fire Engineers.

The forms were introduced in 2019 in response to the Grenfell tower tragedy which killed 72 people in 2017.

The aim of the move is to “unlock the housing market” and lenders HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds have all voiced their support and are updating their practices.

Previously, lenders would require the EWS1 forms to be completed in order for them to value the properties, however leaseholders in smaller blocks with cladding were not prioritised for the required fire safety work which made it difficult for those who wanted to sell or remortgage their homes.

Leaseholders across the country were facing eyewatering costs to replace cladding, and this intervention is designed to prevent that where it is unnecessary.

Robert Jenrick, Housing Secretary said: “Today’s announcement is a significant step forward for leaseholders in medium and lower-rise buildings who have faced difficulty in selling, anxiety at the potential cost of remediation and concern at the safety of their homes.

“While we are strengthening the overall regulatory system, leaseholders cannot remain stuck in homes they cannot sell because of excessive industry caution, nor should they feel that they are living in homes that are unsafe, when the evidence demonstrates otherwise.”