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A sound but uncertain market

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NAEA Propertymark responds to New Homes Ombudsman consultation

Thursday 22 August 2019

NAEA Propertymark has responded to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s consultation into Redress for purchasers of new build homes and the New Homes Ombudsman.

The consultation sought views on the detail of proposed legislation to provide better redress for purchasers of new build homes. This includes the delivery and design of the New Homes Ombudsman, its powers, remit and how it will be funded. The consultation also asked for opinions on whether a Code of Practice should also be underpinned in statute.

Single Ombudsman
Central to NAEA Propertymark’s view is that a New Homes Ombudsman should be part of a single overarching housing ombudsman via the one housing portal. Through this process the portal for housing would be a ‘catch-all’ for housing related complaints with issues then filtered to one ombudsman for private housing and another for social housing. The ombudsman for private housing should cover purchasers who have brought a new build home and purchasers and sellers of existing homes.

Powers
NAEA Propertymark believes that it should be a statutory requirement to belong to a New Homes Ombudsman and membership of a new Homes Ombudsman should be a condition of selling a warranty. Furthermore, a New Homes Ombudsman should be able to reverse a property sale in certain cases and awards should be made public.

UK-wide
To create consistency and ease understanding for consumers a New Homes Ombudsman’s remit should be UK-wide. This will also ensure that warranty and mortgage lenders are also aligned to the process.

RoPA
To further enhance protections for consumers across the UK, NAEA Propertymark believes the Government must extend the requirements under the Estate Agents Act 1979 to housebuilders’ sales staff. The Government must also include the sales staff of housebuilders in the requirements for sales agents to be qualified as set out in the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group report published in July 2019.

Full response

Land and New Homes Working Group

NAEA Propertymark is Chair of the Land and New Homes Working Group. A Group exists to help resolve issues reported to the group as well as provide information and support to members and their businesses on issues in this part of the sector.

The Working Group meets at various times throughout the year and is currently made up of agents, developers and representatives from the Home Builders Federation and Consumer Code for Home Builders.

In this ever-changing climate of legislation members of the Working Group have put forward comments on the design of a New Homes Ombudsman. There are several common areas of agreement:

  • A New Homes Ombudsman should only cover complaints in relation to a purchaser’s new build home where redress cannot be sought elsewhere to prevent double redress. 
  • The Government should embark on a major communication campaign involving all the actors and partners in the sector to ensure that organisations are aware of the requirements to belong to a New Homes Ombudsman.
  • A New Homes Ombudsman must be independent and subject to Government approval.
  • Access should be free for purchases of new build homes.
  • Property developers should be charged price per unit when signing up to a New Homes Ombudsman.
  • A New Homes Ombudsman’s remit should be UK-wide.

To get involved in the work of the Group please email policy@propertymark.co.uk