Consumer Code for Home Builders

Thursday 18 June 2015

The Consumer Code for Homebuilders (the Code) is an industry led code of conduct for builders and their agents, which was developed to make the home buying process fairer and more transparent for purchasers.

Since 1 April 2010, the Code has been providing protection and rights to purchasers of new homes. It ensures that all new home buyers are treated fairly, know what levels of service to expect and are kept fully informed about their purchase before and after they sign the contract.

Buyers must be fully informed of their consumer rights and provided with a speedy, low cost dispute resolution scheme to deal with complaints should they arise.

The Code applies to all homebuilders registered with the UK’s main new home warranty providers; NHBC, Premier Guarantee and LABC Warranty. It consists of 19 requirements and principles that home builders must meet in their marketing and selling of homes, and their after-sales customer service. The requirements of the Code along with compliance guidance for home builders can be seen here.

Where a Home Builder registered with one of the supporting warranty bodies uses an agent to sell or market their homes, the agent must also comply with the relevant requirements within the Code and such responsibilities should be clearly explained in any contractual arrangements.

Awareness levels need to rise

However, market research, which has been conducted annually since the inception of the Code shows evidence of a reduction in awareness levels, notably at the first point of contact with the Home Buyer and amongst Estate Agents who work on behalf of home builders. Whilst both the industry and Estate Agents have invested significantly in staff training, it is inevitable that the churn of staff in the industry makes this an on going priority.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (known as the CPRs) places enormous statutory responsibilities on Estate Agents selling new homes, with possible criminal prosecutions for anyone who breaches them. Estate Agents must therefore ensure that any sales or advertising material and activity is clear and truthful, and that ‘misleading actions’ and ‘misleading omissions’ are avoided at all costs.

Help is here!

Given the severity of these Regulations, and the challenge for home builders and their agents to comply, the Code offers support through its free on-line training and e-learning packages which are currently available on the CCHB website.

For a free checklist on how to comply with the Code, produced by CCHB, just email consumercodesecretariat@gmail.com

CCHB are also looking to host their first FREE webinar in the Autumn. If you’d like to join the webinar, you can register your interest by emailing Carol Brady, the Code’s secretariat, at consumercodesecretariat@gmail.com

For more general information on the Code, please visit consumercodeforhomebuilders.com/the-code/ or email Carol Brady directly at consumercodesecretariat@gmail.com.