The controversy over the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements in the world of property resurfaced over the weekend in a BBC programme.
A senior MP told Radio 4’s Money Box programme that house builders responsible for conducting repair work on new-builds should be more transparent, with less or no use of NDAs to limit adverse publicity.
Clive Betts, who is chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Housing, told the programme that some home owners say they have to sign NDAs as a condition of repairs being done.
He describes the practice as “appalling.”
The programme spoke with many industry figures who said the practice was used regularly but the Home Builders Federation claimed NDAs were "not widely used" by developers.
The issue comes after forms of NDAs are believed - but not confirmed - to have been used by Propertymark around the departure of senior figures; many senior managers, including chief executive Tim Balcon, have left the organisation with no explanation being given to members, and with journalists’ requests for information being dismissed.
It is hard to establish an accurate picture of the use of NDAs in Propertymark or other sectors of the property industry, because those who sign them cannot speak out without possible legal action against them.
On Radio 4 Clive Betts said housebuilders should be obliged to inform home owners when systematic defects were identified that might affect their property, which he said would be normal practice in other areas.
"If this kind of thing happens in the car industry, for example, car companies have to tell their customers, issue a recall and get the problem fixed. I don't see why it should be any different when it comes to buying houses.