Principle Estate Management has welcomed a major UK government intervention that means leaseholders “trapped” in flats due to the cladding crisis could soon be able to sell or remortgage their properties.
The comments from the estate manager come in the wake of advice from an independent expert group that has found that homes in blocks of flats up to 18 metres don’t need an extra safety form.
The concerns over the safety of cladding were raised after the 2017 fire at Grenfell tower in which 72 people lost their lives.
But a government-commissioned review by experts has found there was “no evidence of systemic risk of fire in blocks of flats”, citing evidence suggesting only 9% of blazes were in blocks of flats of four storeys or more.
This has led to housing secretary Robert Jenrick announcing five recommendations to stop what he called the “disproportionate reaction” of lenders to the cladding crisis.
A key recommendation is that an EWS1 form, which assesses the safety of external cladding, should not be a requirement on buildings below 18 metres.
Andrew Winstanley, property operations manager at Principle, welcomed the news. “This paves the way for EWS1 forms to no longer be required for buildings below 18 metres and will help further unlock the housing market.”
He says the intervention will hopefully reduce the ‘needless and costly remediation’ in lower-rise buildings and restore market confidence allowing flat owners to buy, sell or re-mortgage their homes.
“It’s excellent news that a group of major high street lenders has already committed to reviewing their practices following the new advice,” Winstanley adds. “The fact that major lenders such as HSBC UK, Barclays, Lloyds and others have said they are supportive of this position will be a great relief for leaseholders who until now have felt trapped in their homes.”
“While the government’s position and the support for it from major lenders is to be welcomed, we now need all other lenders to quickly update their guidance and policies in line with this expert advice.”
Principle, which is led by experienced chartered surveyors, is a full and active member of the Association of Residential Managing Agents. It now has more than 35 staff looking after a portfolio of more than 7,000 units in 250-plus developments across the UK.