According to the mayor, this issue is due to a shortage of competent professionals who are able to inspect the safety of external walls, as well as the large number of professionals who can’t access professional indemnity insurance for this work.
In a letter written on 21st September, the mayor said urgent government action was needed to release the residents “trapped in potentially unsafe buildings, unable to remortgage at competitive rates, sell, or move on with their lives”.
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He sets out five steps that ministers must undertake urgently in order to release “more than half a million leaseholders from limbo”:
- The government must urgently find a long-term funding solution for external wall remediation which protects leaseholders, and fully fund remediation costs if necessary, where cost recovery from those responsible for the defective works is not successful or possible.
- The government must replace the EWS1 form with a more comprehensive method for tracking and enforcing building owners’ responsibility to inspect and, if necessary, remediate their external walls.
- While the EWS1 form is still in use, the government should work with industry to publish guidance for lenders and leaseholders which sets out which buildings require an EWS1 form and which do not.
- The government should set up a training and accreditation programme to vastly increase the number of competent professionals that can carry out safety inspections of external walls.
- The government must work with the insurance industry to ensure there are clear standards of professional competence to build confidence in providing appropriate PI cover for those with the appropriate qualifications and experience to work on external wall safety.
“It is simply unacceptable that thousands of people’s lives are on hold while the market for leasehold flats has ground to a halt,” the mayor said.
“Leaseholders waiting for an EWS1 form confirming their block complies with government guidance on the safety of external walls are facing mental health problems, overcrowding, missed employment opportunities, and financial pressure.
“Taking action now is critical to ensure the safety of residents and to stop the devastating effects the EWS1 crisis is having.”