Advertisement

New homes ombudsman will provide a helping hand for homeowners

Prompted by shoddy new build houses, the government is to appoint a new homes ombudsman.

917_MW_P30_Inv-Prop
They might look fine on the outside...

Empato

A new homes ombudsman will be launched to help homebuyers who face problems with their newly built houses. The new body, announced at last week's Conservative party conference, will champion the rights of homebuyers and hold developers to account when things go wrong with new builds. This statement has attracted a little controversy, given that an ombudsman is supposed to be impartial. New legislation will require all new developers to belong to an ombudsman scheme, with more detailed proposals to be published in due course.

Nobody likes their new-build house

The problem of people with new-build houses being dissatisfied with the quality of their property is a significant one. In 2017, more than half of the buyers of new houses experienced major problems with their residence, according to a survey carried out by housing charity Shelter. In June this year an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) concluded that house builders "were too frequently handing over poor-quality homes because they could get away with doing so". It called for the appointment of an ombudsman to provide people with a straightforward way of getting problems resolved quickly.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The current situation is a mess. Affected house buyers are not just exasperated by the existence of defects in their new house, but also by builders' failure or refusal to put the defects right, said the APPG. Unfortunately, it is difficult for homeowners to find out what is covered by a warranty "far less than consumers assume" with people facing a confusing array of warranties, housebuilding codes and complaints procedures, each offering something slightly different.

Under today's rules, it is up to your housebuilder to sort out defects during the first two years after completion. After that, warranties provide insurance cover for any failures to meet building regulations. This should last for ten years from the date you completed on the property. It is the house that is covered for ten years, rather than the person, so cover should be passed on to new owners when the house is sold.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Your builder or conveyancer should have confirmed with you whether your property has a warranty from the National House Building Council, Premier Guarantee or LABC Warranty, while you should also have been provided with a policy document and insurance certificate. During years three to ten, any warranty will only cover structural matters costing over £1,500 minor defects are excluded.

What to do after a complaint

If you've complained to your builder, but you're not happy with how your complaint was handled, you can ask to be referred to an independent dispute resolution service, says consumer group Which. You have three months from the date of your builder's final response to your initial complaint in which to request a referral. Your home warranty body will then provide you with an application form and details of any evidence to submit. You will have to pay £100 to register your complaint. The maximum amount of money you can expect to be awarded is £15,000 including a maximum £250 for "inconvenience", but you can't make a complaint based on inconvenience alone. You are entitled to refuse the award, but if you pursue further legal action, the court is likely to take the adjudicator's decision into account.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/516758/beyond-the-brexit-talk-the-british-economy-isnt-doing-too-badly
Economy

Beyond the Brexit talk, the British economy isn’t doing too badly

The political Brexit pantomime aside, Britain is in pretty good shape. With near-record employment, strong wage growth and modest inflation, there is …
17 Oct 2019
Visit/economy/uk-economy/601589/boris-johnsons-grand-infrastructure-plan-needs-some-small-print
UK Economy

Boris Johnson’s grand infrastructure plan needs some small print

Grand infrastructure projects are all very well, but it is the small stuff that delivers the big returns, says Matthew Lynn.
5 Jul 2020
Visit/economy/uk-economy/601605/spend-spend-spend-think-of-it-as-your-patriotic-duty
UK Economy

Spend, spend, spend – think of it as your patriotic duty

After months of lockdown, many of us will have some money to spare. If you do, says Merryn Somerset Webb, spend it.
2 Jul 2020
Visit/investments/property/601606/house-prices-crash-uk-property-prices-falling-where-next
Property

House price crash: UK property prices are falling – so where next?

With UK property prices falling for the first time in eight years, are we about to see a house price crash? John Stepek looks at what’s behind the sli…
2 Jul 2020

Most Popular

Visit/investments/property/601606/house-prices-crash-uk-property-prices-falling-where-next
Property

House price crash: UK property prices are falling – so where next?

With UK property prices falling for the first time in eight years, are we about to see a house price crash? John Stepek looks at what’s behind the sli…
2 Jul 2020
Visit/investments/stockmarkets/601611/nasdaq-all-time-high-markets-and-the-real-economy
Stockmarkets

How can markets hit new record highs when the economy is in such a mess?

Despite the world being in the midst of a global pandemic, America's Nasdaq stock index just hit an all-time high. And it's not the only index on a bu…
3 Jul 2020
Visit/economy/inflation/601584/the-end-of-the-bond-bull-market-and-the-return-of-inflation
Inflation

The end of the bond bull market and the return of inflation

Central bank stimulus, surging post-lockdown demand and the end of the 40-year bond bull market. It all points to inflation, says John Stepek. Here’s …
30 Jun 2020