New proposals recommend a New Homes Ombudsman
A report released by an All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment has suggested that the government should make it compulsory for all housebuilders to belong to an independent ombudsman scheme.
The Better Redress For Homebuyers report recommends that the ombudsman scheme should be free and independent for consumers and offer a quick resolution for any disputes. It also suggests that the government work with house builders, warranty providers and consumer groups to draw up a code of practice. The report highlights that the current redress methods are confusing due to the number of different warranties, codes and procedures for complaints and do not put the consumer first.
Richard Best, the Vice Chair of the group has pointed out that buying a home is already stressful enough, but discovering your home is defective can take a toll on the well-being of the consumer. He says that consumers should feel confident they are buying a high-quality product, no matter who built it.
The report suggests that consumers could have access to a single portal for ombudsman services for the residential sector which would cover estate agents through to social housing. This would be funded by a levy on housebuilders. The report also covers timescales for settling disputes, how the new scheme would work with current complaints procedures and what the sanctions would be for housebuilders who fail in their duty to the consumer.
Graham Watts from the Construction Industry Council has agreed with the report and says that consumers buying new homes should expect the same level of aftercare as they do purchasing any other new product.