Topics: Housing

New Homes Ombudsman

A cross-party group of Parliamentarians and industry representatives has set out proposals for a New Homes Ombudsman to help dissatisfied home buyers seek redress. G&T partner and Construction Industry Council (CIC) board member, Tony Burton was one of twelve members on the commission and attended the launch of the report last month. The CIC, which is backing the report, provides the Secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment.

In the report, published on 26th June 2018, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment calls on the Government to make it mandatory for all housebuilders to belong to an independent ombudsman scheme.

The report, Better redress for homebuyers, says that a New Homes Ombudsman should be independent, free to consumers and provide a quick resolution to disputes. The report also recommends that government, warranty providers, housebuilders and consumer groups work together to draw up a code of practice which would be used by the New Homes Ombudsman to adjudicate on disputes.

The report is the result of the Group’s latest inquiry which investigated how an ombudsman scheme could operate following its earlier report in July 2016 on the quality and workmanship of new housing in England. That report, More homes, fewer complaints, called for a New Homes Ombudsman after the inquiry revealed a high level of frustration and disappointment from buyers of new homes, both in terms of the number of defects that new homes often had on handover, and also the problems they encountered in getting them fixed.

To reduce consumer confusion and help ensure consumer complaints are dealt with efficiently, the report is recommending that there is a single entry point for ombudsman services spanning the entire residential sector, which would cover the conduct of estate agents through to social housing. Within this overarching service, there would be either a number of specialist ombudsmen or specialist divisions. One of these would cover new homes – and this is the aspect the report is concentrating on with a view to establishing the case for a New Homes Ombudsman.

The recommendations have been presented to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to form part of its consultation on proposals for a single housing ombudsman to cover the housing sector.

Download a full copy of the report here.

Source: All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment, June 2018.