Author : Marry-Anne Bowring
The New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS) is a dedicated entity that assists customers in addressing unresolved problems with their newly constructed homes. Its primary purpose is to resolve disputes and make determinations on complaints filed by buyers against developers.
The role of the New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS)
The New Homes Ombudsman Service has been created to enhance the overall quality of newly built homes throughout the United Kingdom and bolster consumer protection for individuals purchasing new build properties. Before the Building Safety Act 2022 was enacted, buyers of new-build properties had no official avenue to lodge complaints or seek remedies for substandard construction.
Highlights of the New Homes Ombudsman Service
New Homes Ombudsman Service aims to address this issue by providing resolution to commonly faced problems.
It will provide a recourse mechanism for homeowners of faulty new-build properties when developers cannot resolve their complaints.
the New Homes Ombudsman Service will allow complaints to be referred up to two years after the completion date or within two years of the initial complaint made to the developer.
It will be a free-of-charge service funded by developers through an annual registration fee that may vary based on their operations.
The New Homes Ombudsman Service will include an online platform where complaints can be efficiently managed and processed.
Final decisions by the New Homes Ombudsman Service will be binding for both parties involved, to ensure effective resolution and quick closure.
When the New Homes Ombudsman Service receives a complaint, the developer may be asked for an explanation or rectification depending on its nature and seriousness. In valid cases, they must provide compensation or a goodwill payment (up to a maximum of 75,000). The New Homes Ombudsman Service will be governed by the independent New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) which has been established under the Building Safety Act to enhance regulation within the construction industry and address gaps in consumer protection for those purchasing new homes.
It evaluates individual cases to determine if developers have violated the New Homes Quality Code (NHQC) standards, the benchmarks for newly constructed private residences. The primary objective of the New Homes Ombudsman Service is to improve the quality of newly built homes throughout the UK and strengthen consumer safeguards for homebuyers. It aims to offer a more efficient and less time-consuming alternative dispute resolution mechanism that can benefit consumers and developers.
New Homes Quality Code (NHQC) explained
The New Homes Quality Code outlines fundamental principles and practical steps for Registered Developers to follow throughout the entire process of selling new homes. It covers everything, from reservation to two years after occupation. The aim is to ensure comprehensive coverage of all aspects of a new home purchase.
Developers are responsible for transitioning to the new code of practice and ensuring their processes align with the principle of treating customers fairly. This includes avoiding high-pressure sales tactics, providing a cooling-off period, protecting deposits, disclosing relevant information such as service charges, and arranging pre-completion inspections by qualified inspectors.
Registered developers must also have an effective after-sales service to address issues and complaints. If buyers remain dissatisfied, they can refer their case to the New Home Ombudsman Service within two years of purchase. An area that lacks clarity is the approach of the New Homes Ombudsman Service when serious issues emerge after two years. Concerns have also been raised about the representation of design professionals and the lack of diversity, particularly from BAME communities, within the New Home Quality Board.
What will the New Home Ombudsman Service Registration Processes look like?
Most developers of newly built private homes are expected to register with the New Home Ombudsman Service. It is expected that this may become a requirement from structural warranty insurers and lenders. Under the Building Safety Act 2022, the Government retains the power to make New Homes Ombudsman Service registration mandatory for companies involved in building and selling new homes.
At The Ringley Group we work with many reputable developers to home quality is intrinsically written into their brand, but there are developers who sometimes fall short. We welcome the introduction of the New Home Ombudsman Service. With our 25+ years experience as a Managing Agent in the block and property management sector, time has shown that sometimes purchasers find navigating a fair outcome from a developer a challenge. The New Homes Ombudsman Service, as any Ombudsman Service will be set up to understand consumers as just that - consumers - rather than as the holder of a purchase contract. This mindset change will hopefully enable sensible outcomes to be delivered quickly and without fear of a consumer having to invest in expensive litigation where the small guy rarely wins against the big bucks.
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