The New Homes Ombudsman addresses complaints from freeholders of new build homes “that are not up to scratch”
The Housing Ombudsman has signed a memorandum of understanding with the New Homes Ombudsman Service, which deals with complaints raised by owners of new build homes, in order to foster “cooperation and communication” between the two bodies.
The MoU recognises that the New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS) is a voluntary scheme “for the time being” but is based on provisions in the Building Safety Act 2022 and the Housing Act 1996.
Membership of the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) is mandatory for all social landlords and local housing authorities who are registered with the regulator of social housing.
The Housing Ombudsman’s statement indicates that the NHOS will be placed on a same statutory footing as the HOS in due course.
When the NHOS launched in 2022, more than 100 developers signed up to be part of the New Homes Ombudsman Service scheme, including volume housebuilders Barratt, Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, Bellway and Redrow.
The MoU, signed on 20 November 2023, will serve to foster cooperation and collaboration between the two bodies and clarify “any potential overlap” in the Ombudsmen’s jurisdiction.
Issues looked at by the NHOS are assessed against the New Homes Quality Code, which is owned by the New Homes Quality Board, a not-for-profit independent body launched in 2022.
The Dispute Service, the tenancy deposit protection and resolutions service, was selected to run the independent NHOS in November 2021, after what the New Homes Quality Board described as “a fiercely competitive tendering process”.
The code of practice increases responsibilities on housebuilders for the service they provide, particularly after a customer moves into a new build home. It also sets higher standards for the handling of complaints.
The code covers the two year period from the reservation or legal completion of a new build property.
A complaint to the NHOS can only be made by freehold and private leaseholders who have purchased new homes from developers who have signed up as registered Developers with the New Homes Quality Board.
Customers do not pay a fee for raising a complaint with NHOS, as the scheme is fully funded by NHQB through a levy on registered developers.
The Housing Ombudsman deals with complaints from tenants, as well as leaseholders and shared owners. Complaints about freehold new build homes are dealt with by the NHOS.