“It’s completely unacceptable that so many people struggle to get answers when they find issues with their dream new home. That’s why the Ombudsman will stop rogue developers getting away with shoddy building work and raise the game of housebuilders across the sector. Homebuyers will be able to access help when they need it, so disputes can be resolved faster and people can get the compensation they deserve.” – Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP (Housing Secretary).
Demand for new houses has increased rapidly since 2012. As the number of new homes increases, it is essential that the quality and level of service provided remains high. For this reason, an All-Party Parliamentary Group recommended that a new organisation be set up to drive housing developers to deliver good-quality homes and to ensure that homeowners receive sufficient consumer protection.
The New Homes Quality Board (“NHQB”) is an independent body comprising of a cross-section of individuals from various housebuilders and organisations who will be consulting on the introduction of a new, comprehensive industry code of practice for builders as well as appointing a New Homes Ombudsman to adjudicate against the new code.
The principles of the New Homes Code are not yet currently known, but it is expected that it may have greater focus on environmental issues such as energy efficiency. But it is known that it will place considerable demands on builders right the way through the sales process up until two years after the homeowner moves in. It will require an effective complaints procedure to be put in place and specify timelines within which developers must address any issues.
The New Homes Ombudsman will have five key principles: independence, fairness, effectiveness, transparency and accountability. It will have the power to investigate complaints from consumers and will have powers to grant compensation for poor building work or poor service; the Government stated in a February 2020 consultation that it would want to see the New Homes Ombudsman have the power to make awards of up to £50,000.
The NHQB will be funded by the house building industry and access to the New Homes Ombudsman will be free to new homes owners. The current goal is to have the ombudsman service operational later in the year. Once the New Homes Ombudsman is established, it will be a requirement for all housebuilders and developers to register and adopt the New Home Code rules.
At Ellisons our specialist Construction and Regulatory Solicitors work closely with both our Dispute Resolution and Commercial Property teams, to offer a fully integrated development and dispute resolution service. Contact the Ellisons’ specialist Construction and Regulatory Solicitors today on 01206 764477 or email us at [email protected].