Cladding on flats
Leaseholders in apartment blocks which have cladding on them may have received letters from Remus informing them that “EWS1” surveys of the cladding are to be carried out. The requirement for a EWS1 certificate can be problematic particularly for those seeking to sell their apartment.
Useful information about cladding and surveys can be found on the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors website (RICS Cladding Q & A).
Further information about cladding issues can also be found on the website of the charity Leasehold Knowledge Partnership.
Both the above contain information about the responsibilities of the building owner.
Remus have confirmed that similar letters have been sent to the building owners (e.g Persimmon in the case of the apartment block at Ffordd yr Mileniwm.)
Remus have also explained that the surveys are likely to take place in the New Year in 2021 - with further more specialist surveys needed if it transpires that the cladding is not compliant.
Jane Hutt MS has been involved in efforts by the Welsh Government (& possibly the UK Government) to persuade mortgage lenders and banks that EWS1 certificates are not required for buildings less than 18 metres in height or where the amount of cladding is small.
The NHBC website also contains helpful information. The NHBC have stated (in response to a leaseholder in a Persimmon built block on the Waterfront):
“Should the cladding be deemed non-compliant, I can confirm that we would consider a claim under the Buildmark policies and would suggest that your Managing Agent contact us to discuss, when the results of the EWS1 survey are clear.
With regard to your policy, when an issue relates to multiple properties sharing responsibility for a common area, we take into account each of those policies and take a proportion of the financials from each policy – rather than just one. This is worked out by your lease and your apportionment share to the cladding or defective area.”
Update re EWS1 cladding issues on apartment blocks - Barry Waterfront - February 2021
In 2020, the Government and the RICS agreed on the EWS1 process - whereby the safety of cladding on high rise buildings was assessed. Flat owners looking to sell or re-mortgage their homes discovered that lenders asked for an EWS1 form. Such forms are not a statutory requirement, but lenders may refuse a mortgage application where one cannot be produced as a purely commercial decision. This has caused huge difficulties.
In Feb 2021, the UK Government announced a new package of measures to address the problem of apartment blocks with unsafe cladding. The measures do not include funding for remedial works on blocks less than 18 meters in height - such as those in the Waterfront development.
However, proposed new guidance by the RICS maybe helpful to those wishing to sell. The planned guidance note - which is expected to be issued in the Spring - relates to the valuation of properties in multi storey residential apartment buildings and should support greater consistency among valuers and their lender clients for when an EWS1 form is required, reducing the number of unnecessary delays.
According to an article in Construction News (January 2021) the proposed guidance will state that buildings below 18m with cladding on less than 25% of the exterior surface area would no longer need to have the risk posed by exterior cladding formally assessed - ie no EWS1 would be required. This guidance is likely to be helpful to those who own apartments on the Waterfront in blocks which are less than 18m high with a small amount of cladding. For example, Persimmon have said that the amount of cladding on the block on the corner of Ffordd y Mileniwm and Ffordd yr Glanau is less than 25%.
In addition, the UK Government is pressing lenders to accept other forms of evidence on building safety to support their valuations, saying that the EWS1 process should only be used where there is clear need, and where no reasonable assurances or regulatory evidence exists to support valuations. For leaseholders on the Waterfront development, this should mean that clear documented information provided by the builders (eg Persimmon or Wimpey) about the type of cladding used should (provided it is safe) be sufficient to support valuations of the property. Persimmon have provided such information.
Meanwhile, Remus have indicated that some cladding surveys have taken place - with the outcome expected shortly. Remus says it has negotiated a reduction in the cost of surveys based on a visual inspection, taking account of information provided by the building owner, and not involving equipment or machinery.
The Welsh Government is continuing to work with the UK Government & RICS on the issue.