The Cladding Scandal Continues

Published date09 December 2020
Law FirmFenwick Elliott LLP
AuthorMs Rebecca Penney

Rebecca Penney is one of potentially thousands of private leaseholders who have been told that their properties are covered in combustible cladding. Understandably, she asks how did everyone get in this position and who really is responsible in the end for the necessary remedial works.

Aside from Covid-19, this year has been particularly tough for leaseholders of new build properties up and down the country whose properties have been affected by the latest cladding scandal to hit the Government. I am one of an estimated 3,000,000 private leaseholders who have been told that their properties are covered in combustible cladding and are effectively worthless until further notice. Our housing association, the "building owner" for the purposes of the relevant legislation, has known about the issues with cladding at our development since June 2018. The building is deemed to be so dangerous that we have had a waking watch in place 24 hours a day for the past two years and yet nothing has been done to rectify the situation. It has become increasingly apparent that litigation is on the horizon and there is no doubt an ongoing battle behind the scenes as to who should pick up the tab for the remedial works. So how did we get to this position, and who is ultimately responsible for the remedial works?


Following the Grenfell tragedy in 2017, the Government announced a number of reforms designed to improve fire safety in high rise multi-occupied buildings, including the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 which prohibit the use of combustible cladding in buildings over 18m and the now infamous Advice Note 14, which extended building owners' obligations to checking that the materials contained within external wall systems are of limited combustibility and safe. This in turn led to surveyors valuing "unsafe" buildings that could not demonstrate compliance with Advice Note 14 at '0 and mortgage lenders became unwilling to lend against such properties.

On 16 December 2019, in a bid to give confidence to lenders, RICS introduced a new requirement to facilitate the process of evaluating and selling properties, the EWS1 (External Wall fire Review) form. The EWS1 form is intended to record "in a consistent manner what assessment has been carried out for the external wall construction of residential apartment buildings where the highest floor is 18m or more above ground level or where specific concerns exist".

EWS1 contains two options for recording the findings of the...

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