The government has made provision for legislation that could strengthen redress for consumers buying new build homes. However, how and when these changes will be implemented remains unclear.
This has led to some misunderstandings in the industry about the current and future obligations for developers, and the support available for consumers now. In this article, we set out the facts as they currently stand, and what’s happening with the Consumer Code for Home Builders during this period of change.
The New Homes Ombudsman
A New Homes Ombudsman has been set up and is due to start operating later in 2022, but it is not a statutory body.
The Building Safety Act 2022 includes provision for a statutory New Homes Ombudsman but this will require secondary legislation. In the current political environment, it seems unlikely that the necessary legislation will be brought forward in the short term.
Statutory New Homes Code
The Building Safety Act 2022 also states that it may approve or issue a statutory code, but again, it is likely this won’t happen for some time, and it is unclear how it will be provided.
As things currently stand, all existing codes, including the Consumer Code for Home Builders, New Homes Quality Code, and Consumer Code for New Homes remain voluntary. Developers are free to choose which Code they comply with, subject to any restrictions imposed by their warranty provider.
The Consumer Code for Home Builders covers approximately 95% of new build homes in the UK and is supported by NHBC, LABC Warranty, Premier Guarantee and Checkmate. Home builders currently operating under those schemes must comply with the Consumer Code for Home Builders unless they specifically seek to change to the New Homes Quality Code.
What does this mean for consumers?
Our focus continues to be working with the industry to improve the service homebuyers receive and strengthen the protection available to consumers should things go wrong.
The Consumer Code continues to protect consumers through requirements builders must comply with, supported by our training, compliance and sanctions regime. We are now in the process of reviewing our Code to strengthen redress and align our code with others (where appropriate) to make support more consistent for homebuyers.
We will continue to provide the Independent Dispute Resolution Scheme operated by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution and maintain our focus on applying sanctions on developers where these are necessary and working proactively with the industry to continuously improve customer service.
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