Confusion over guidance and shortage of qualified surveyors leading to EWS1 certificate chaos!
On 8th March 2021 the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) issued new guidance to valuers. This guidance was to help a mortgage valuer to know when they should request an EWS1 certificate. The new guidance was promoted heavily by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) as it would free 500,000 families from the wait for an EWS1 certificate. The reboot of EWS1 was widely covered in the press.
Alongside the new guidance RICS quietly updated the EWS1 Form itself and the acceptable signatory guidance that accompanies it. No press release, no announcement, no attention – Why?
Put simply the EWS1 Form and guidance has always been poor. This is why on 12th March 2020 (3 months after launch) we described EWS1 as a ‘Magnet for Fraud’
One of the key mechanisms exploited by fraudulent and/or incompetent EWS1 survey companies is vague guidance as to what constitutes an acceptable signatory. From late 2020 to early 2021 the lending banks started to strictly interpret the loose RICS guidance and began rejecting submitted EWS1 Forms. The result of a rejected EWS1 Form is a failed mortgage application and a lost sale. Even worse it could lead to a dangerous building being classified as safe. But, more likely as our report shows, it could lead to an expensive set of interim measures, such as waking watch and a multi-million-pound remediation bill!
We recently reviewed a sample of 82 signed EWS1 forms to learn more about the number of invalid signatories and the range of pass/fail grades awarded. The results were shocking and this led to coverage of the issue on LBC by Rachael Venables:
We are urgently looking for more signed EWS1 Forms so we can run the report again very soon. Please email any EWS1 certificates to firstname.lastname@example.org