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Government advice notes around building safety

Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, government changed its guidelines in 2019 and early 2020 around building safety by issuing a series of advice notes. These notes are intended to give building owners clear guidance on how to make sure their homes are constructed and maintained safely.

What is happening?

Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, government changed its guidelines around building safety by issuing a series of advice notes. These notes are intended to give building owners clear guidance on how to make sure their homes are constructed and maintained safely.

Recently, mortgage lenders and valuers have begun asking people who apply for mortgages on homes in residential apartment buildings to provide independent certification that the property meets the requirements of the advice notes.

In January 2020, government combined all advice notes into one ‘consolidated’ advice note, which included some of the recommendations of the original Advice Note 14, including the certification now referred to as an ‘EWS1’ form. It also extended the requirements to buildings of any height.

The interpretation of the guidance by mortgage lenders and valuers has led to confusion and anxiety for homeowners. It is not a legal requirement for a building to meet the conditions of the consolidated advice note.

This does not mean that affected buildings are unsafe. It is a legal requirement for building owners to hold a current fire risk assessment for all buildings (that contain an internal communal area); Hyde complies with this requirement.

Lenders may still take the view that if independent certification cannot be provided to demonstrate compliance, they won’t offer a mortgage.

What are we doing?

Our role is to build homes for people and to help people to make the moves they need. We want to support the mobility and life choices of homeowners and we are doing what we can, but there is no simple quick fix.

Along with our colleagues at the G15, the largest housing associations in London, we are calling on government to step in to offer clearer guidance for building owners and mortgage lenders.

We hope we will get the clarification we need from government in the coming months. Our hope is that this will reassure customers, allow mortgage lenders to relax their stance, and give building owners a reasonable timeframe in which to resolve any outstanding issues.

In the meantime, we are engaging with experts who can start investigations. However, due to a lack of experts and a high demand from all building owners nationally, progress is slow and difficult to estimate. This means that we may not be able to tell you when we will have a completed report for your building.

Reassurance about safety

The safety of our residents is our utmost priority. Hyde has committed £50 million to carry out enhanced fire risk assessments across 166 buildings - this goes above the minimum requirement. Results of these surveys have led to major works including cladding replacement and extensive works to prevent the spread of fire. We are also implementing the recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of building safety.

We would like to reassure our customers that all our purpose-built buildings:

  • Received building control sign off at the time of build
  • Received approval from a licensed warranty provider after they were built
  • Have an up to date fire risk assessment, which we review regularly on frequencies recommended by our fire experts.

Who should I contact?

If you have questions regarding this, please contact the Home Ownership Team at LME@hyde-housing.co.uk

If you have questions regarding the safety of your building, please contact residentfiresafety@hyde-housing.co.uk

If you are concerned that your ability to re-mortgage, staircase or sell your home might be affected by these changes, please seek advice directly from your lender or mortgage broker.

Head to Selling and re-mortgaging your home