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RICS highlights importance of expertise required to sign off EWS1 forms

02 October 2020

THE RICS has been made aware that unqualified individuals may be signing off EWS1 forms, a practice which the organisation “strongly condemns”. The EWS1 form is a set way for a building owner to confirm to valuers and lenders that an external cladding system on residential buildings has been assessed by a suitable expert in line with the latest Government advice.

The EWS1 is a form introduced as part of a new External Wall Fire Review process valuing high-rise buildings. The EWS1 form was introduced in December last year in response to the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. The form designates whether the external wall of a building, or attachments to the external wall such as cladding, are at low risk for fire.

The result of a form is used by mortgage lenders in decision-making regarding buying, selling, mortgaging and re-mortgaging properties within that building. If a form is requested by a lender, the property is considered valueless until such time that the form is completed. If the form designates that a building is at higher risk for fire, remedial work is required before mortgage providers would lend on it.

The EWS1 form must be completed by a fully qualified member of a relevant professional body within the construction industry with sufficient expertise to identify the relevant materials within the external wall cladding and attachments, including whether fire resisting cavity barriers and fire stopping have been installed correctly.

A list of suggested bodies to contact in order to source fire experts and information about the full competences required can be found on the RICS website.

UK banks and building societies have robust measures in place to protect people against fraud, which would pick up any EWS1 form that’s suspicious, but the RICS encourages everyone to check the signatory on a form with the profession’s institution. If an RICS member is completing an EWS1 form, the host organisation can check their membership on the RICS website.

The RICS, UK Finance and the Building Societies Association do not approve individual persons who can deliver the EWS1 and cannot advise on who can and cannot complete the EWS1 form/process. However, they would anticipate that only qualified and Chartered members of the relevant professional bodies such as the IFE and the RICS will have the necessary self-assessed competence and professional indemnity insurance needed to carry out such work.