Omnipotent Ombudsman – what powers will the new homes ombudsman have against developers?

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The New Homes Ombudsman is a key component of the Government’s plan to overhaul the housebuilding sector as seen by the introduction of the Building Safety Bill. The NH Ombudsman will play a crucial role in meeting the targets for building more new homes.

At the start of 2021, we saw the launch of the New Homes Quality Board, an independent body designed to drive new build quality and strengthen the protection available for buyers. The draft New Homes Quality Code which is set to replace the Consumer Code for Housebuilders is currently being considered.  The Code will set out 10 fundamental guiding principles that will regulate how house builders deal with customers. The NH Ombudsman will be responsible for monitoring compliance.

Also included in the Building Safety Bill is the right granted to new homes owners to have complaints against builders investigated and determined by an independent individual which will be free to use. The NH Ombudsman will have the right to require housebuilders to:

  • Pay compensation
  • Make an apology
  • Provide an explanation; and/or
  • Take some other action as the Ombudsman may specify.

Failure to comply with a determination may lead to the builder being expelled from the Ombudsman Scheme, effectively barring them from the industry as membership of the Ombudsman’s Scheme is mandatory.

The final details of the Ombudsman scheme are still awaited. We are yet to see how the scheme will work in practice and whether there will be a limit placed on the financial awards the Ombudsman can make.

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