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EWS1 forms, selling, staircasing and remortgaging - FAQs

If you're a leaseholder or shared owner in an affected block, you'll have questions about your ability to staircase, remortgage or sell your property.

You may also want to know about the EWS1 form, which is sometimes asked for by lenders before you can sell or remortgage. 

Some of you may have experienced or be aware of issues with mortgage lenders being reluctant to lend to leaseholders in tall buildings. 

Lenders now require a building owner to produce an additional certificate (EWS1). Where we need to appoint a Chartered Fire Engineer, part of their appointment includes the provision of an EWS1 Certificate.  

We will try to obtain this certificate on your behalf as soon as possible and once it’s finalised make it available to you.  

If you are trying to sell your property, then we also advise you to speak to an Independent Financial Advisor familiar with the current mortgage market for high rise blocks of flats.  

Should I advertise my property if you’ve told me it needs an investigation, or the investigation is ongoing? 
Ultimately the decision is yours. We cannot advise you what to do, however we do want to make sure you are informed of all the facts about your property. You can speak to an independent financial advisor, but again this may come at cost to you and we will not be able to reimburse you. 

Are any properties within my development able to sell? 
In our experience mortgage lenders will treat all properties on each development in the same way. 

In our experience your existing lender will allow you to switch to a new ‘product’ from their portfolio. This is known as a Product Transfer and you can find more information about it here.   

However, if you want to switch lender, the RICS form mentioned above should help with this.  

Again, we would advise that you speak to an Independent Financial Advisor familiar with the current mortgage market for high rise blocks of flats.  

Property valuations are affected by various factors outside of Network Homes’ control. We do not insure against a decrease in property values.

Please contact us if you wish to let your property and we will assist you. We also recommend you inform your mortgage lender. 

If you decide to advertise your property, you may begin to incur costs. If this happens, Network Homes will not be liable to reimburse any cost you may have incurred.  

The EWS1 form has been designed by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) for buildings over 18 metres or buildings with specific concerns, and it states that on the form. RICS has confirmed that this is the case and the form is not for buildings under 18 metres, unless there is a specific concern about its construction.  

We are currently working through investigating our buildings which are over 18 metres, and where we can, provide the form. By the end of May, we will have appointed a qualified fire engineer on all our buildings over 18 metres. They will then be able to investigate the building and, where possible, issue the form.  

Where we are not the building owner, we have written to the original developer/owner to ask them of their plans to get an EWS1 form for their building. 

There are currently over 5,000 buildings over 18 metres which require investigation. However, there are only 300 qualified fire engineers in the UK who are able to carry out this work. This means they are in very high demand and there is already a backlog of buildings which are waiting for a date for investigations.

For buildings under 18 metres, we currently don't have a programme to get an EWS1 form for the buildings as RICS have confirmed that the form is for buildings over 18 metres or where specific concerns exist. We are currently focusing on investigating our buildings over 18 metres, or those below 18 metres where we have specific concerns about their construction as the government has identified these as higher risk. There are a limited number of qualified engineers to carry out inspections and we have at least 90 buildings which are in our current investigation programme. If the government or RICS guidance changes, then we will put together a programme of work for buildings below 18 metres. 

Can I sell my property?  
Can I re-mortgage my property? Can I get a Product Transfer? 
What if my property value has decreased?  
Can I let my property whilst the remedial works are being carried out? 
What happens if I advertise my property, but then I find out my building does have some problems with the cladding or external wall system? Will I get compensation for any costs?
When will an EWS1 form be available for my block? Will you get an EWS1 form for my block under 18 metres?

 Shared ownership and staircasing 

This will depend on your personal circumstances.  If you are funding the additional equity from your savings, you are free to staircase. 

However, if you require an additional loan to finance the purchase of the additional equity, we recommend you discuss this with your existing lender before deciding what to do.  

Ultimately the decision is yours. We don't want to tell you want to do, but we do want to make sure you are informed of all the facts about your property. You can speak to an independent financial advisor, but again this may come at cost to you and we will not be able to reimburse you.  

If you begin the resales process and later decide that you no longer wish to proceed all you need to do is let us know. We will then be able to remove your property from our website and let any potential buyer/s know that the property is no longer available for sale. 

Once your nomination period has ended you will be free to advertise your property on the open market. Please note that if you decide to proceed with an agent, you will need to clarify their fees with them directly. We also recommend that you inform your chosen agents of the status of your building investigations in order that any potential buyers can be made aware from the outset.  

Mortgage lenders have begun to request reports regarding cladding and external walls before they will proceed to issue a buyers mortgage offer. In a few cases some lenders have started to offer £0 valuations on flats due to questions over whether the buildings are compliant with the government’s advice. As the building investigations are still ongoing, we have not had any resale shared ownership homes proceed to sales completion.  

The £0 valuation is for the purposes of mortgage lenders only, not for staircasing. The value of your property still remains as per your independent RICs valuation report.  

If you proceed to staircase and use a new lender there is a possibility that they may query the cladding and value the property at £0 however if you choose to stay with your current mortgage provider they may not require a report on the external walls and building safety so you may be able to complete staircasing. We recommend that you seek advice from an independent financial advisor prior to proceeding. 

We've been lobbying the government and are still asking them to consider funding the work on these buildings and to clarify their guidance to help people to sell their homes. They have recently announced that they are considering options of how they could possibly help leaseholders. 

Can I staircase my equity in my property? 
Should I advertise my property if you’ve told me it needs an investigation, or the investigation is ongoing?
What if I advertise the property and then change my mind?
What happens if I advertise the property and the nomination period ends?
Are any properties within my development able to sell?
I've got a £0 valuation, so can I staircase to 100%?
What are you doing to help?

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