Currently, there are several codes of conduct covering the new build homes market, including a new ‘New Homes Quality Code’ created by the New Homes Quality Board (NHQB). The Consumer Code for Home Builders (the Code) is the principal code, covering 95% of all new build homes in the UK. These are voluntary codes of conduct designed to improve fairness and transparency in the buying and selling of new build homes. However, where homes are covered by the four main warrant providers – NHBC, LABC Warranty, Checkmate or Premier Guarantee – developers are obliged to comply with our Code.
To further strengthen redress in the new homes market, the Building Safety Bill was introduced to Parliament on 5 July 2021. It is a wide-ranging bill focused largely on safety but includes improvements in the quality of homes.
The Bill could allow for the creation of a statutory ombudsman sometime in the future. Should this happen, our Code will transition to a new code that builders and developers will be required to meet and on which the New Homes Ombudsman, once fully set up, will adjudicate. It is likely that any such code would be an amalgamation of the various codes currently in place. Until that time, our Code will continue to operate, and developers are free to choose which Code they comply with (subject to any requirements set by their warranty providers).
The current situation risks confusion if not carefully managed, which is why the critical focus for us is to ensure there is good communication with the industry as these changes take place and that clear, easily accessible information and supporting signposting is in place for consumers.
The industry will need sufficient time to manage any transition, particularly in relation to staff training. The legacy issues that could arise for two or three years after existing codes cease to operate add to the complexity. We are making careful plans to manage these changes as far as our Code is concerned and will provide the industry with sufficient notice to make their own internal arrangements. If you have any questions regarding any of these changes, please contact us.
To help ensure home buyers are not adversely affected by any delays or confusion about changes in protection, the Code’s Board has agreed to press on with our normal activities, including a review of our Code.
We will continue to work with the NHQB and maintain efforts to strengthen redress for consumers while ensuring a continuous high level of protection for new build home buyers.