The UK Government has announced a new, independent Ombudsman in a bid to protect property buyers who are faced with “shoddy building work” in their new homes.
Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, made the announcement following a three-month-long consultation which was held last year.
He explained: “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 from 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.”
What is the New Homes Ombudsman?
This New Homes Ombudsman will provide a clear route for purchasers of new-build homes to complain when things have gone wrong, and provide effective redress through alternative dispute resolution, avoiding the need to go to court.
The Ombudsman will have statutory powers to award compensation, ban rogue developers from building, and order developers to fix poor building work.
All developers will be required to belong to the Ombudsman, which will be independent of the industry, and free to consumers.
James Clarke, Land & New Homes director at Lang Town & Country
What do the experts think?
Propertymark – of which Lang Town & Country is proud to be a member – has long called for the creation of a New Homes Ombudsman, as part of its work on leasehold issues.
James Clarke, Land & New Homes director, commented: “Personally, I think this is a great step forward for the new-build market.
“As more new homes are being built than in recent years, this should go a long way to ensure that the standard of new homes constructed are built to the requirements, for the customer.
“It will be interesting to see how quickly this Ombudsman will be implemented – particular in Plymouth and the surrounding areas.”
Mark Hayward, Chief Executive of NAEA Propertymark, added: “Propertymark has campaigned for a New Homes Ombudsman to be created.
“We welcome the clarity this response brings, and look forward to further developments as legislation is brought forward.”
How else will the New Homes Ombudsman help homeowners?
As part of the Government’s wider work to raise the standard of homes across the country, new measures have also been confirmed that make sure all homes sold under the future Help to Buy scheme meet higher standards – and ensure developers put quality first.
Currently, homebuyers who purchase new builds have no independent way of challenging developers’ service or poor workmanship.
This is the latest in a series of policies the government is putting forward to build better homes across the country – including developing a new National Model Design Code; consulting on the Future Homes Standard to tackle climate change, and introducing a new Building Safety Regulator to bring fundamental change to the sector.
Other parts of the housing market already have mandatory redress requirements set out in legislation – such as social housing, and property, lettings, and estate agents.
A new code of practice will have higher standards that developers need to meet in their services for sales, marketing and build.
Part of a larger Government plan
The New Homes Ombudsman comes hot on the heels of the Government announcing its First Home scheme, a policy which plans to offer first-time buyers a 30% discount on some new-build homes, aiding affordability by lowering mortgage and deposit costs.
The First Homes scheme would reduce the average price of a first-time buyer property in the UK from £285,874 to £200,112. Assuming a 20% deposit and an 80% mortgage, using the scheme would reduce a first-time buyer deposit by £17,152 and the mortgage needed by £68,610.
The Government is committed to delivering one million new homes during the next five years, and the First Home scheme would ensure a proportion of these are available to first-time buyers at a discount.
With Help to Buy due to end in 2023, First Homes could help plug the gap. However, there are concerns that it could come at the expense of traditional affordable housing, such as affordable rent, social rent and shared ownership.