23 October 2019

The role of the New Homes Ombudsman

Over the summer the all-party parliamentary group for Excellence in the Built Environment has been in consultation about its plan to introduce a New Homes Ombudsman - a watchdog that will champion homebuyers, protect their interests and hold developers to account. This is part of a package of measures designed to improve new build housing and comes on the back of increased complaints by purchasers over the last 10 years or so.

The position of the all-party parliamentary group for Excellence in the Built Environment is that “… many builders do a fantastic job and take pride in their work”. It also acknowledges that house building is rarely straightforward. However, it emphasises that housebuilders must aim to get things right first time and if they don’t, mistakes must be corrected quickly and home buyers treated fairly.

The intention is that every housebuilder will be required to belong to a New Homes Ombudsman to try to more adequately address the increased complaints about delays, defects, unfair contracts and for customer service.

The consultation looked at a number of issues, for example:

  • Who would the ombudsman apply to?
  • What timescales would apply for appointing an ombudsman?
  • Who would deliver the service – public or private sector?
  • What are the standards to be provided by the ombudsman?
  • How will the ombudsman be funded?
  • And most crucially, what powers the ombudsman would have – particularly, would it have power to make a financial award?

The consultation has now closed, so we await the proposals from the all-party group on how this will affect builders and the sector more generally.