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Hi all. I'm looking for a bit of advice as I'm in a bit of a frustrating position with a remortgage I'm currently going through and it's costing me money the longer it goes on. I listen to the podcast religiously and know there is a great community here so really hoping to get some advice if anyone can provide any. I've outlined my predicament below. 

I own a flat in Hinckley, Leicestershire which I rent out. The building is three stories high, and my flat is on the top floor. I've been trying to get the flat remortgaged recently but the lenders are asking for an EWS1 form to confirm the cladding on the building isn't flammable. On the RICS website it states that these forms only really apply to apartment blocks over 18m, or six stories, in height, or with balconies. Mine doesn't sit within these guidelines but having pointed this out to the lender and showing that it is clad in brick, they are still requesting the form. I have been trying to get this EWS1 form from the management company, Warwick Estates, but it is taking a long time. I've been emailing them for well over a month as they are currently not taking calls due to reduced staff as a result of Covid-19, and a Property Assistance has been speaking with their risk assessment department, who have said they are starting to look at quotes to get the surveys done, but they can't confirm a timeline. I've asked for a direct line to someone in the risk assessment department, or someone higher up their, but I doubt I will get this as their communications are abysmal. 

The really frustrating thing is my other mortgage is now outside of its fixed rate terms so I am paying a lot more per month for that mortgage whilst this gets sorted. Rent is coming in, which I am very grateful for at this time, but the profit is taking a serious dent. 

I've looked into getting a survey done myself but have had a quote back of around £2000, which I'd rather not pay as it's not my responsibility to do so, it's the management companies. 

I was wondering if anyone has been through this situation at all and can provide any advice? Do I go to one of the governing bodies and put a complaint in about Warwick Estates? Or is there something else I can do? I fear this could go on for months and months. 

Thanks in advance for anyone that can impart any information. 

Cheers,

Joe

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Im afraid we have a huge issue in regards this at the moment.

I have a client who has been told by Peabody, who own 1000 buildings across london that it may take years to get around to doing a survey. I presume because they make so little from the ground rent and service charges from probably 20,000 residents they simply cant afford to. Im sure it has nothing to do with greed and a complete lack of corporate responsibility...

They cant remortgage, cant sell and are basically stuck. The government ws useless the days and weeks after Grenfell, they simply dont care at all right now, and the corporate freeholders are free to do this in their own sweet time.

There are regular news stories in the industry press about this as well in the national press, it does little to be honest.

I would look to consult with other leaseholders. Try and set up an action group, mail everyone in the building and any other buildings they own and see who you can collect together. Perhaps if everyone in the building refused to pay service charges until the surveys are carried out they might react differently. If you can consult legal advisors you might be able to claim support to challenge them in court, or you could present stories to your local and national press, as well as signing group letters to your local MP. Anything that will force someone to pull their finger out.

Sorry, i can understand your frustration, good luck.

043_logo_final_03.png.0cdf828351f81e6097208048ac2d018d.pngStuart Phillips

Independent, Whole of Market Mortgage Broker

AALTO Mortgages Ltd

Web  www.aaltomortgages.com

Email  sales@aaltomortgages.com

Call  020 7183 1101

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 months later...

I'm also in precisely the same dilemma.

I own a flat in Norwich, which I'm applying to get a remortgage for, which has taken 4.5 months (as an overseas landlord, and a self-employed person, getting financing is generally a huge nightmare).

I've now been told by the lender that the surveyor requires the EWS1 form. The property management company put me in touch with the building management firm (I think the freeholder) and they've told me the same thing - they've applied but unlikely to be any time soon.

What an absolute joke. For me it's a pain but not life-changing; I have income, I have a tenant there. But what about people who want to sell and move out of their flats, but can't, as this ridiculous policy stops them from getting a valuation? What about divorcing couples who can't move out and sell their place, and may not be able to for years?

 

This kind of thing makes me want to give up on property. It really shouldn't be this difficult. Did you have any success or solutions?

 

Thanks!

Andrew

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I've run into this same problem with a new purchase on a building below 18 metres. The building manager even wrote on email that this building is below 18 metres and didn't need an EWS form, which I forwarded to the mortgage company but it did not satisfy them.

 

What I didn't realise is that there is now guidance (MHCLG guidance for building owners 2020) that recommends even buildings below 18 metres should get a document signed off to say there are no fire safety risks. Building managers will not sign this off without getting an independent survey done because they don't want the liability to fall on their shoulders. Hence even these buildings will need to commission a costly and intrusive survey done. There is a shortage of professionals available to do this kind of work from what I hear.

 

It is really bad for leaseholders because if they need to sell, they will only be able to attract cash buyers who will likely only offer 20-30% below market value. So the government is effectively causing a price correction in all these buildings, with people potentially losing all their equity.

 

 

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19 hours ago, andrewl84 said:

I'm also in precisely the same dilemma.

I own a flat in Norwich, which I'm applying to get a remortgage for, which has taken 4.5 months (as an overseas landlord, and a self-employed person, getting financing is generally a huge nightmare).

I've now been told by the lender that the surveyor requires the EWS1 form. The property management company put me in touch with the building management firm (I think the freeholder) and they've told me the same thing - they've applied but unlikely to be any time soon.

What an absolute joke. For me it's a pain but not life-changing; I have income, I have a tenant there. But what about people who want to sell and move out of their flats, but can't, as this ridiculous policy stops them from getting a valuation? What about divorcing couples who can't move out and sell their place, and may not be able to for years?

 

This kind of thing makes me want to give up on property. It really shouldn't be this difficult. Did you have any success or solutions?

 

Thanks!

Andrew

Hi Andrew,

Sorry to hear you are also facing problems and as you've said this legislation will now be impacting people who may be in dire circumstances, especially when you take into consideration the impact the pandemic is having on people. I've recently moved out of a flat in Manchester where we were in lockdown into a house and it's made no end of difference to my quality of life already. Having more space, etc. So I really feel for people who are stuck and can't get out and sell or get a better mortgage. 

I am continually badgering the property management company, Warwick Estates, but am getting nowhere. I managed to find one of their directors emails and got one reply from her before it appeared she stepped down. I haven't heard back from the other contact and last I heard, in July, they had received quotes and were going to make a decision. Frankly I think it's a load of lies. They have a terrible reputation. In the end I have had to stay with my previous lender and agree a new fixed term. It's not as good as other products on the market, but it's better than nothing. 

There is a glimmer of hope. On a recent Property Podcast Rob and Rob spoke about the EWS1 form problem and how far it is extending and that it will likely be addressed as the impact it will have on the mortgage market will eventually put too much strain on it as the market won't move. After all, if people can't get these forms...and there is huge backlog...then mortgage companies can't give mortgages. If they can't give they can't make money. A vicious circle that some small tweaks in the legislation will be able to change. 

Please keep me updated on your progress as I'm interested to hear if you have any success.

Cheers,

Joe

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19 hours ago, hrp321 said:

I've run into this same problem with a new purchase on a building below 18 metres. The building manager even wrote on email that this building is below 18 metres and didn't need an EWS form, which I forwarded to the mortgage company but it did not satisfy them.

 

What I didn't realise is that there is now guidance (MHCLG guidance for building owners 2020) that recommends even buildings below 18 metres should get a document signed off to say there are no fire safety risks. Building managers will not sign this off without getting an independent survey done because they don't want the liability to fall on their shoulders. Hence even these buildings will need to commission a costly and intrusive survey done. There is a shortage of professionals available to do this kind of work from what I hear.

 

It is really bad for leaseholders because if they need to sell, they will only be able to attract cash buyers who will likely only offer 20-30% below market value. So the government is effectively causing a price correction in all these buildings, with people potentially losing all their equity.

 

 

What you've described is exactly what I ran in to. The building my flat is in is only 3 stories high. Maybe 10-12 metres maximum and made all of brick. There needs to be a shift in guidance and legislation soon as it could really impact the market. 

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3 hours ago, jgilliver said:

What you've described is exactly what I ran in to. The building my flat is in is only 3 stories high. Maybe 10-12 metres maximum and made all of brick. There needs to be a shift in guidance and legislation soon as it could really impact the market. 

Unfortunately, the brokers I have spoken to all say that there is no progress being made on the issue from what they can tell - as the focus is on Brexit and Covid. My personal guess is this could take a year or two to properly resolve.

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