On the 24th February 2020, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced the New Homes Ombudsman, a new regulatory body that will aim to ‘protect homebuyers from rogue developers’.
The Ombudsman will be compulsory for developers to join and will have statutory powers to award compensation, ban ‘rogue’ developers from building, and order developers to fix poor building work.
In what Jenrick outlines as ‘shoddy building work’, the Ombudsman will step in to help homebuyers with issues such as sloppy brickwork and faulty wiring, with the aim of ‘raising the game’ of housebuilders across the sector.
New laws will ensure all developers belong to the Ombudsman, meaning that homebuyers, no matter who has built their home, will have access to quick redress should anything go wrong, any issues need fixing or any compensation need awarding.
On the Ombudsman, Jenrick commented:
“It’s completely unacceptable that so many people struggle to get answers when they find issues with their dream new home.
Currently, homebuyers who purchase new builds have no independent way of challenging developer’s service or poor workmanship.
Today’s news will give people buying a new home the confidence they need that when they keys to their home, they are getting the quality they expect.”
The Ombudsman will also look to make a lot more information publicly available, naming landlords and developers who fail to comply with the new rules laid out by the government. Speaking to Inside Housing Richard Blakeway, who leads the Ombudsman, commented that this new transparent approach will be “a real step change”, adding that he hopes that it will stop people from being dissuaded from voicing their issues and complaint to the Ombudsman as they’re unsure whether it will make a difference.
Another issue, says Blakeway, is landlords’ co-operation in providing evidence related to complaints in a timely manner. A recent trial found that 91% of responses to Ombudsman’s requests for evidence in November arrive late, with the figure 88% for December.
In an attempt to combat this, the new scheme will see a 15 working day deadline imposed on landlords, with information likely to be made public over ‘complaint handling failures’ for those who still neglect to adhere to the guidelines.
Read more about the New Homes Ombudsman here.