A new body which says it will “champion better outcomes for buyers” is described as independent but is to be chaired by a Conservative MP.
The New Homes Quality Board launches this week and is led by Natalie Elphicke MP - also known as Natalie Ross - and it will oversee the consultation on and introduction of a code of practice for the new build sector.
It says this will place considerably more responsibility on developers to deliver quality homes, and will involve the creation of a New Homes Ombudsman Service.
Its permanently-appointed board members include representatives from consumer bodies, house builders, warranty providers, the finance sector and independents; it claims to have a constitution “that ensures no one body is dominant.”
A government statement says the new arrangements will aim to deliver consistently high-quality homes and considerably stronger consumer protections.
The initiative will be paid for by the house building industry, probably with an annual registration fee and levy based on volumes.
“The arrangements will lead to a step change in how new homes are built and sold and how customers are treated. The board is committed to driving new build quality and strengthening protections for buyers” says Elphicke.
And Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, adds: “The industry is absolutely committed to putting measures in place to help deliver consistently high-quality new homes and effective redress for buyers. Recent years have seen significant improvements made in build quality and customer service and we are determined to go further.”
The new code of practice is to be called the New Homes Code. It will require developers to have effective complaints procedures in place, with specified timelines within which they have to address issues that arise with a new home to the consumer’s satisfaction or be potentially subject to a referral to the NHOS.
The NHQB is working closely with the Ombudsman Association, the independent body that validates ombudsman schemes, on the process to appoint an Ombudsman.
Once established there will be a transition period during which developers will be required to sign up to the new arrangement and so be subject to the requirements of the New Homes Code and the jurisdiction of the NHOS.