New Homes Ombudsman – November Update

27th November 2020

After Build have been closely following the progress of the commission and set up of a New Homes Ombudsman since we studied the results of the initial consultation earlier this year.

Our management team have met with people key to this process from the Homes and Communities Agency and maintained regular contact with the Home Office throughout the Summer. We have been able to offer them a unique insight into the problems of defects reported in new builds across the UK. After Build hold a unique set of data which captures warranty defect trends, across the last 20 years and a sizeable cross section of developers.

So where are we up until this point?

This Summer, we’ve seen a number of natural steps, including the setting up of The New Homes Quality Board, chaired by Natalie Elphick MP, who are responsible for setting out a new code of practice to scrutinise and legislate on the holistic process of building and selling residential properties.

In July, a draft version of the Building Safety Bill was introduced to parliament and in it set out language pertaining to the introduction of a New Homes Ombudsman. As was expected, the legislation sets out the need for a code of practice including mandating that developers must subscribe to the scheme and adhere to the code or else be penalised.

We are now in a period of waiting. Our contacts at the Home Office have told us that “…Pre-legislative scrutiny evidence sessions finished on 19th October and we now await the publication of the committee’s report which will include recommendations to strengthen the Bill.”

After Build are urging all our clients to make use of this time to strengthen your policies and procedures in line with likely controls which could take effect from next year.

In the first instance, After Build are a safe pair of hands in after sales defect management. We intend to work productively and to mutual benefit with the New Homes Ombudsman, in much the way we already do with Warranty Providers. Our service will be compliant with best practice every step of the way and we’re inviting developers to extend our service to their buyers for confidence in an excellent programme of after care.

Secondly, it is almost certain that the New Homes Ombudsman, in line with others, will require any complainant to exhaust the company’s own complaint process before allowing them to appeal through the NHO. We know from experience that many of the developers do not have a robust complaints policy, nor the periphery policies which support it.

After Build are here to help! We’ve written a number of bespoke, fair and consistently applied complaints policies for our clients and can train your teams on how to work through the procedure and learn the value of complaints, rather than shying away from them.

If you are looking to make a start on changing your after care to ensure you aren’t left wanting by the new legislation, call us, we’ll be more than happy to help. In the meantime, we will keep you updated and bring you all the latest news, as we get it, on the New Homes Ombudsman.

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