Government announces New Homes Ombudsman

Swift action can now be taken if homebuyers find their new flat is badly built

The Government has announced a new, independent Ombudsman for homebuyers faced with shoddy building work in their new homes. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed yesterday that the New Homes Ombudsman will be independent and enforced in law as soon as possible to protect homebuyers from rogue developers. Under the new rules, builders will have to pay compensation for poor workmanship. All housebuilders will have to join the Ombudsman and must put quality first if they want to sell homes under the Help to Buy scheme.

The Ombudsman will step in to help homebuyers with issues from sloppy brickwork to faulty wiring. It will have statutory powers to award compensation, ban rogue developers from building, and order developers to fix poor building work.

Where people are in dispute with developers, the new Ombudsman will act swiftly and independently to resolve any issues – ending the nightmare of people facing long waits and costly court cases trying to sort out problems with their new homes.

At the moment, anyone buying a new build home has no independent way of challenging developers’ service or poor workmanship. They only have their NHBC certificate to fall back on and this doesn’t always produce the right result.

The aim is for the New Homes Ombudsman to have the ability to act fast, so that new build issues are dealt with swiftly and effectively. It will be able to:

  • make awards for compensation to homebuyers
  • request developers undertake or refrain from undertaking work
  • direct developers to improve their service
  • publish details and reasons for expulsion of a developer
  • make recommendations to resolve disputes and timescales for rectifying disputes
  • request apologies and explanations from developers.

Today’s news is very welcome. Having access to proper redress should give homebuyers more confidence that their home is built to the quality they expect. Too many new builds throw up problems once owners have moved in and getting things put right can be a long and stressful process. Now, a clear complaints process that can be used when things go wrong, including alternative dispute resolution, should speed things up and keep homeowners out of court. The service will also be free to use – and that’s always good news!