MHCLG consultation on the New Homes Ombudsman – Law Society response

The proposals

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) consulted on:

  • delivering a New Homes Ombudsman
  • proposed legislation to provide better redress for buyers of new build homes

The consultation looked at the design and delivery of the New Homes Ombudsman, its powers, remit and how to fund it.

It also sought views on whether a code of practice should be underpinned in statute as well as the best way to enforce the requirement to belong to a New Homes Ombudsman.

Our view

We support the government’s intention of introducing a voluntary Code of Practice for a New Homes Ombudsman with a view to possibly underpinning this by legislation in future.

New build developers should be obliged to belong to the New Homes Ombudsman if they want to participate in any government assistance schemes (such as Help to Buy).

We do not believe that the New Homes Ombudsman should only deal with complaints where redress cannot be sought elsewhere.

If a complaint applies equally in the second-hand market, it may be satisfactory to deal through alternate schemes, but where there are aspects that only apply in new build cases, these should be dealt with by the New Homes Ombudsman.

Access to the New Homes Ombudsman should be wide.

Properties sold by an investor to a third party should be included within the remit of the scheme so that this is not used as a loophole.

Those who can seek redress through the New Homes Ombudsman should be similar to those currently able to seek redress through the Legal Ombudsman: all members of the public that have a problem with their service provider.

We believe that the buyer should have grounds to access the New Homes Ombudsman at any point after which they’ve exhausted the discussion with the developer to seek a remedy.

An impact assessment or some modelling might be useful in order to establish how best to fund the new service.

Next steps

The consultation closed on 22 August.

Read the consultation on the GOV.UK website