New Homes ombudsman proposed in latest government report

ombudsman, All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment, APPGEBE

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment (APPGEBE) has produced a report which recommends the appointment of an ombudsman to oversee the rights of buyers of new homes.

The publication, titled ‘Better redress for homebuyers’, says that homebuyers need more protection from poor quality building, particularly as the government is pushing for a major increase in the number of new homes in the next decade.

The report follows a 2016 document from APPGEBE (‘More homes, fewer complaints’) which investigated the quality and workmanship of new housing in England and proposed the idea of an ombudsman to protect new home buyers. The chairman of the APPGEBE at the time, Oliver Colville MP said: “Our view is that increasing the quantity of new homes must not be achieved at the expense of their quality. It is clear to us that there is a quality gap between customer demands and industry delivery.”

The latest report highlights that consumers with complaints about a new home face a ‘confusing landscape’ of warranties, codes and complaints procedures. The report calls on housebuilders to put consumers ‘at the forefront of what they do’, including delivery of zero defect homes and greater transparency in the inspection and warranty process.

The proposed scheme would be independent, free to consumers and provide a quick resolution to disputes. It also proposes that membership should be a statutory requirement ‘for any organisation building and selling new homes’. There would also be a single ombudsman for the entire retail sector covering the conduct of estate agents to social housing in order to reduce confusion in the marketplace.

In the introduction to the 2018 report Eddie Hughes MP writes: “All purchasers of new homes in this country should be confident they are buying a high-quality product, not matter who built it or where they are in the country. Our proposals will help to make this a reality.”

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