Fiona Haggett (pictured), head of valuations at Barclays Mortgages, has developed a document which aims to simplify the problem of external cladding that has left properties in limbo after being valued at £0 due to uncertainty on whether they meet Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government guidelines.
It is hoped the certificate will provide certainty to home owners currently unable to sell their properties due to the cladding and will help to get the market moving again.
Haggett has been working with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), UK Finance and the Building Societies Association to find a solution to the issue which has seen leaseholders unable to sell or remortgage their properties.
After speaking to Barclays underwriters about the cladding issue a few months ago, Haggett drafted a one-page document in order to consolidate a process which often requires numerous documents.
The document was initially to be branded by Barclays, but Haggett later decided to remove the branding and get the approval of other lenders as she felt the problem was an industry-wide one.
She then put the idea of the certificate to RICS who picked it up in September following months of disinterest.
Haggett said: “I don’t think [RICS] saw it as their role initially, but I think they began to realise it does need somebody across the industry to pick this up rather than one lender.
“It’s all got a lot more urgent of late – the problem’s got a lot worse.”
While the document was being drafted, Haggett also got advice from fire engineers who said they could not sign it off but identified areas of the document that would meet all requirements.
Barclays’s valuation partners E.surv and Countrywide have also had a hand in putting the certificate together.
The document, which is in its final stages and described by Haggett as being similar to the Professional Consultants Certificate, is currently a two-level certificate due to a lack of fire engineers.
Haggett said: “If it’s a very straightforward property they fill in part A. If it’s a bit more complex, then it needs to go to someone who’s got greater skills.”
However, once it is adopted industry wide, she said there will be one certificate per building to identify a property’s status.
Get market moving again
Haggett hopes classifying those properties which meet regulations will “open up the market” and said while it will not solve all the problems currently seen, it will help to ease and address things for those affected.
She said it will let those who are living in buildings deemed unsafe know where they stand and if there will be any costs in the future. She added: “For those people whose buildings are fine, it will be an enormous relief because they can start transacting again.”
Currently, there is no date for the release of the document or the overall initiative with RICS but it is expected to be announced “in the next few weeks”.
Haggett added: “It’s in everybody’s interest to get this market moving again. If you talk to any lenders or valuers, it’s consuming a lot of people’s time. It’s actually pretty distressing. It’s not a satisfactory situation.”