Building Safety Act 2022 – are flats getting easier to finance?

You may have heard of an External Wall System (EWS1) form, if not from experience as the owner of a flat, then from the news. It was initially introduced in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire to ensure external wall systems were properly assessed for fire safety. This was a much-needed change, but left freeholders and leaseholders confused as to who was to pay the potentially substantial costs involved in rectifying any issues found. 

With a lack of clarity on who is liable for the cost of repair works, understandably there has been a stand-off between developers, freeholders and leaseholders. Many freeholders have felt that it’s their right to pass these costs on to the leaseholders in the form of a service charge or that it should be covered by the original builders who installed the defective products. A common sentiment among leaseholders has been that it is the building owners’ obligation to ensure the building it manages is safe. A knock-on effect of this uncertainty is that lenders and surveyors have struggled to assign a value to flats, not knowing if the owner will be due a large bill for the works at any moment.

Thankfully, the government has finally released some further legislation amendments to make it clear who is liable for the cost of works and formed a new regulatory body: The Building Safety Regulator. Becoming responsible for regulating high rise buildings with 7 or more storeys or 18 meters or higher from October 2023, their mandate is to hold those responsible for building safety accountable and impose penalties for non-compliance. Further funding has also been granted for the Building Safety Fund which provides grants for buildings where a ‘responsible developer cannot be identified’.

Whether you own a flat and you are struggling to refinance or sell, or you have shied away from purchasing a flat due to the bad publicity flats have had over the past few years, it is worth reviewing the current legislation to get the full picture of your options and potential rights as a leaseholder, along with reviewing mortgage options.

 

Further information:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/building-safety/regulator.htm

What Is An EWS1 Form - HomeOwners Alliance (hoa.org.uk)

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