Matthew has met ‘virtually’ with representatives of UK Finance and separately with the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) and the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM) to discuss the demand being made on residential leaseholders to provide an EWS1 form when they are re-mortgaging or selling their properties.
This follows on from Matthew’s questioning of the Housing Minister in the House of Commons in November (HC Debate, 24 November 2020 c700) and through a Written Parliamentary Question (HC Deb, 1st December 2020, CW). While the Minister confirmed that the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the industry do not require an EWS1 form for properties that do not have external cladding, the documentation is still being demanded to ensure that any part of the building, including internal wall cavities, do not pose a fire risk.
Matthew has raised concerns that the demand for surveyors to undertake such work are not immediately available and a greater number need to be engaged to identify properties which are of greater risk of fire. Whilst welcoming the announcement of the £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund, Matthew is continuing to ask Government how the allocation of the Building Safety Fund will ensure that those buildings at highest risk will be tackled first.
Matthew said: “Communication around the Building Safety Fund is causing concern as leaseholders are not being informed of progress. Coupled with spending on waking watches, this is leading to anxiety about the length of time it will take to make their buildings safe and saleable. The Waking Watch Relief Fund will help reduce that concern in the new year but in the meantime many of my constituents remain anxious about the possibility of facing crippling financial demands to make their properties safe.
"In all my discussions - with leaseholders, the Government, the building industry and trade bodies - I have made it clear that leaseholders must not be left with a bill to fund remedial works. Properties were purchased by leaseholders with the appropriate surveys undertaken and it remains the responsibility of regulators and the construction industry to pay for works that are now deemed to be unfit.
"I am pressing the Government to come forward and lead a cross-body discussion on how my constituents who are leaseholders can be released from their terrible predicament.”