The All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment (APPGEBE) Inquiry into the New Homes Ombudsman. The Report Better redress for homebuyers - How New Homes Ombudsman could help drive up standards in housebuilding and improve consumer rights
The report says that a New Homes Ombudsman should be independent, free to consumers and provide a quick resolution to disputes. The report also recommends that government, warranty providers, housebuilders and consumer group’s work together to draw up a code of practice which would be used by the New Homes Ombudsman to adjudicate on disputes.
The report is the result of the Group’s latest Inquiry which investigated how an ombudsman scheme could operate following its earlier report in July 2016 on the quality and workmanship of new housing in England. That report More homes, fewer complaints, called for a New Homes Ombudsman after the Inquiry revealed a high level of frustration and disappointment from buyers of new homes, both in terms of the number of defects that new homes often had on handover, and also the problems they encountered in getting them fixed.
This latest Inquiry once again revealed the confusing landscape consumers face when they try to get redress for building defects, with a plethora of warranties, housebuilding codes and complaints procedures, none of which put the consumer first.
To reduce consumer confusion and help ensure consumer complaints are dealt with efficiently, the report is recommending that there is a single portal – or entry point – for ombudsman services spanning the entire residential sector, which would cover the conduct of estate agents through to social housing. Within this overarching service, there would be either a number of specialist ombudsmen or specialist divisions. One of these would cover new homes – and this is the aspect our report is concentrating on with a view to establishing the case for a New Homes Ombudsman.
The All-Party Group proposes that all disputes taken to the New Homes Ombudsman should be noted in an annual report. Funding for the scheme would be paid for by a levy on housebuilders, with larger companies paying proportionately more.
The Group was chaired by Eddie Hughes, the Conservative MP for Walsall North, until June 13. He stepped down following his appointment as a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
The Construction Industry Council provides the Secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment.
The recommendations have been presented to the MHCLG to form part of its consultation on proposals for a single housing ombudsman to cover the housing sector.
The full report can be downloaded here.
The Commission Members:
The APPGEBE Commission of Inquiry comprises members of both Houses of Parliament, senior members of the construction professions, key influencers and decision makers in other aspects of society, who are as follows:
Eddie Hughes MP (Chairman untill 13 June 2018), Lord Best, Earl of Lytton, Helen Hayes MP, Lord Stunell, Lord Kerslake, Ben Derbyshire, Prof John Nolan, Tony Burton, Stephen Stone, Chris Blythe and Prof Tony Crook CBE.
The Secretariat for the Inquiry and the Group is provided by the Construction Industry Council.