MPs Confirm Call for new Homes Ombudsman

MPs confirm call for new homes ombudsman:

A new report from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment calls on the government to make it mandatory for all housebuilders to belong to an independent ombudsman scheme.

The report, Better redress for homebuyers, 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 groups 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 into how an ombudsman scheme could operate. The APPG says that the inquiry “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”.

“Buying a new home is stressful enough but buying a defective one, as we heard from submissions and witnesses, can take a massive toll on people’s wellbeing as they wrestle with an almost Kafkaesque system seemingly designed to be unhelpful,” said Richard Best, the group’s vice chair. “The purchaser of a new home in this country should be confident that they are buying a high-quality product, no matter where they are or who built it. Our proposals could help to make this a reality,” he said.

The report 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 Home Builders Federation noted that the report recognises that the industry has already made significant progress with regards to improving build quality and customer service. “Satisfaction amongst new homes owners remains extremely high but the industry is totally committed to going further," said HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley. "The industry supports moves to put an ombudsman in place to further improve consumer protections and has already done a huge amount of work to consider how we best progress this ambition.  Housebuilders will continue to work with all interested parties to deliver a new homes ombudsman and enhance consumer protections in a way that is workable for the industry and allows housing supply to continue to grow.”

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.

Original Source: HouseBuilder

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