The Government sponsored New Homes Quality Board is currently (until 7 July 2021) consulting on a proposed New Homes Quality Code.
Riding on the back of adverse publicity ranging from use of unfair leasehold terms, the Grenfell disaster, shoddy workmanship and poor complaint handling and after-sales service, the New Homes Quality Board has been established to provide a platform for improved consumer protection and is planning to issue a New Homes Quality Code for new homes developers to adhere to.
The NHQBs introductory statement says:
“The Code aims to address the gaps in existing protections for new build customers for which the house building industry has been so heavily criticised in recent years. It introduces a broad range of additional requirements for builders to fill the gaps in current protections and ensure that every aspect of a new home purchase, from when a customer walks into a sales office, through to two years after occupation of the home is covered.
The new Code;
Protects vulnerable customers, prohibits high pressure selling; requires any deposits the customer pays to their builder to be protected
Requires the builder to provide all relevant information about the home during the sales process – including its tenure and any future management or service charges – that allows them to make an informed decision about their purchase
Sets out requirements for a fair reservation agreement, including a ‘cooling off’ period; and sales contract requirements
Allows customer to have a professional carry out a pre-completion inspection of their home on their behalf
Specifies that a home must be ‘complete’, preventing builders paying customers to move into a new home early.
Crucially, and to address the biggest gap in the existing arrangements, the new Code requires builders to have an effective after care service in place to deal with any issues or ‘snagging’ problems customers have with their new home; and a robust complaints process that responds to customers concerns in a timely manner and to their satisfaction, keeping them informed at set times throughout. If a customer is not satisfied with how any complaint they have made has been dealt with, they can refer themselves to the independent New Homes Ombudsman Service.”
Many will see the above objectives as no more than encapsulating best practice and the better house builders will no doubt have to make few (if any) changes to their policies and customer service standards. Poor customer service can affect the largest developers as well as small under-resourced operators. Aggrieved customers are increasingly able to reflect their frustrations and spread adverse publicity through social media. This makes the case for improved standards all the more pressing as a business priority for those in the new homes industry. Those house builders who take pride in their reputations will continue to feel aggrieved at those whose business models and internal systems repeatedly fail to satisfy customers and so tarnish the reputation of all those in the sector.
Details of the consultation arrangements including a draft of the Code of Practice and Developers Guidance are available using the link here
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.