New Homes Ombudsman

4 October 2022   New Homes Ombudsman - now operational.

Remember this day, it was the day the housebuilder’s New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS) became operational. It has taken me over 8 years of relentless campaigning to reach this stage. What we now have is a redress service which is questionably independent, that "exists to help customers resolve issues with their new homes, which the Registered Developer has been unable or unwilling to fix."  Only time will tell whether this is just a Consumer Code 2.0 reboot.

All new homebuyers reserving from a registered housebuilder from 4 October 2022 can complain to the New Homes Ombudsman.

The first hurdle to overcome is to check is whether the housebuilder is actually registered here.

Disappointingly and suspicious, is the Home page which states under "How the New Home Ombudsman works":

"What to do if NHOS cannot investigate your complaint. If you have a complaint about a developer/housebuilder in relation to your new home, NHOS may not be able to help you. Read More to find out why, and what you can do."

Not quite what we should expect from an organisation supposedly:

"Championing quality new homes & better consumer outcomes"

It is early days and no doubt any dubious industry meddling will become evident in the first year or two, after which perhaps new home buyers will finally get the truly independent STATUTORY New Homes Ombudsman, as the government announced on 1 October 2018.

6 January 2022

The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) has appointed the Dispute Service to set up and operate the New Homes Ombudsman Service from "early 2022". The New Homes Ombudsman should provide independent redress for consumers, but only for those buying new home from a builder registered with the NHQB. The Government has indicated that this voluntary ombudsman scheme, if it proves suitable, could become the New Homes Ombudsman scheme "once legislation is passed" - three years four months (and in two Queen’s speeches!) after James Brokenshire first announced the Statutory New Homes Ombudsman on 1 October 2018. Where there is a will there is away but just how long does this government need? So for the foreseeable future, new homebuyers redress is with an industry-led body, and a voluntary new homes ombudsman service. On 8 March 2022, the NHQB confirmed to this website that:

"the expected timescale for the New Homes Ombudsman Service to become operational is during April 2022"

The New Homes Ombudsman Service will adjudicate new homebuyer’s complaints regarding breaches of any requirements in the NHQB new Code of Practice which replaces the Consumer Code for Home Builders during 2022.

Once the New Homes Ombudsman is operational, (currently "early 2022") there will be a "transition period" during which time developers will be asked and be able to register with the NHQB from 31 January 2022 with the majority expected to be registered before the NHQB registration deadline on 31 December 2022.

On 1 October 2018, after five years campaigning by our New Homes Expert, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire announced that a statutory New Homes Ombudsman would be created to a "champion homebuyers, protect their interests and hold developers to account" which when it is finally in place, should give new homebuyers an independent  means of redress.

A year after that 1st October 2018 announcement, legislation to "require developers to belong to a new homes ombudsman" was included in the Queen’s speech 2019 (page 75). So despite this and the re announcements, it would appear to be a distinct danger that the statutory New Homes Ombudsman could be delayed for years. Until then, it looks possible that distressed new homebuyers will be forced to make do with an initial voluntary ombudsman, working to a Code drawn up with the housebuilding industry. Indeed, recent tweets would indicate the Consumer Code for Home Builders, the HBF and the government are colluding to create an industry led, industry administered new homes ombudsman which will be restricted only to breaches of a unified Code of Practice, drawn up by the industry. It is difficult to see how this could in anyway "champion homebuyers, protect their interests and hold developers to account" - especially the latter!


             From Consumer Code for Home Builders newsletter                  Tweet by Homes for Scotland - part of CCHB Board!

The current intention is it will be a new homes ombudsman in "shadow form" whatever that is, or will eventually mean for new homebuyers.

Whatever transpires it will be on this page that new homebuyers will be able to see how the new homes ombudsman will operate, in what form and how to make a complaint against their housebuilder.

It is hoped that builder buy-backs referred to as  "reversing the sale" in the 2018 New Homes Ombudsman Inquiry report will be one of the options available for the new homes ombudsman to adjudicate.

Until such time, we wait (and wait) for government to act and find out when the new homes ombudsman will be operational.

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