Better Protection for Homebuyers Becomes Implemented

From the 5th of October, 2022, buyers of new build homes can benefit from greater protection, if any problems arise with their new property, or they disagree on matters with their construction service.

New legislation places stringent requirements on construction, while also allowing complaints to be dealt with more effectively. An independent Ombudsman service will also provide redress for buyers with complaints. The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) will also oversee changes which put buyers at the core of the new build process from start to finish. 

In most situations, homebuyers are properly dealt with by their developer and are satisfied with their purchase. However, current protections do not always provide satisfactory conclusions, something the NHQB is moving to improve for prospective buyers.

More than 90 developers took part in registration and are collaborating with the NHQB to ready themselves for the next steps. At first, the scheme will serve the entirety of the UK and those that are signed up to the scheme already will display the NHQB and Ombudsman branding. It may expand to other countries also. 

Leon Livermore, chief executive of the New Homes Quality Board, said: ‘Buying a new build home is a massive moment in many people’s lives and it ought to be a happy and memorable experience. I firmly believe that the new framework will drive up standards, improve the experience and increase consumer confidence, providing benefits for consumers and builders alike. Consumers can buy with confidence knowing any issues that do arise will need to be rectified quickly by their builder and that they have the new Ombudsman as a backstop, able to enforce a resolution of the issue if they decide that there has been a breach of the code.’

The New Homes Ombudsman designate, Alison MacDougall, commented: ‘The New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS) will have a strong role to play in ensuring that consumer complaints about the experience of buying a new home are dealt with independently and effectively.  We aim to contribute to the promotion of best practice within the sector, and to identify issues arising from complaints which may merit further consideration across the industry.’

The new Code ensures that every aspect of a new home purchase, from initial visit to the sales office to the end of their two-year warranty is covered. It further ensures builders to have an effective after care service in place, one of the biggest gaps in the current arrangements, to deal with any issues as well as a robust complaints process that responds to customers concerns in a timely manner and to their standard.

The new code:
  • Protects customers, prohibits high pressure selling; requires any deposits the customer pays to their builder to be protected.
  • Requires the developers to provide all relevant information about the home during the sales process – including its tenure and any future management or service charges – allowing them to make an informed decision about their purchase.
  • Sets out requirements for a fair reservation agreement, including a ‘cooling off’ period; and sales contract requirements.
  • Allows customers to engage a professional to carry out a pre-completion inspection of their home on their behalf.
  • Specifies that a home must be ‘complete’, preventing developers paying customers to move into a new home early.
  • Replaces the large number of previous codes, hence simplifying and boosting consumer confidence