We have previously commented on the introduction of the New Homes Quality Code. (No.1 and No.2)
In this note we look at the ten fundamental principles which underpin the detailed provisions of the Code. None of the principles will come as a surprise nor be seen as anything other than self-evident by those housebuilders who are already mindful of their reputation and quality of their workmanship but there will need to be some additional measures taken to ensure compliance.
Fairness – the duty of fair treatment of buyers throughout the home buying and after-sales periods.
Safety – all work is to be done in accordance with building regulations and requirements.
Quality – all work is to be done to a good quality and to all applicable standards and regulations in accordance with the specification for the new home and ensuring that legal completion only happens after the new home is properly complete.
Service – developers need to have the systems and processes in place, including training, to meet customer service requirements of the Code and high pressure selling techniques are outlawed.
Responsiveness – developers are expected to be clear, responsive and timely in dealing with their customers in relation to after-sales service and dealing with any complaints.
Transparency – clear and accurate information needs to be given including details of the tenure, future costs, particularly those relating to leasehold or management services.
Independence – buyers from developers must be made aware that they should appoint independent legal advisers when buying a new home and they have the right to an independent pre-completion inspection before legal completion takes place.
Inclusivity – developers are expected to take steps to identify and provide appropriate support to vulnerable customers including making the Code available to all customers in appropriately accessible formats and languages.
Security – developers need to have appropriate financial structures in place to meet all of their obligations under the Code including repayment of deposits when due and funding awards that may be made by the Ombudsman Service. These arrangements should include insurance or other satisfactory proposals.
Compliance – developers are expected generally to co-operate with and comply with all of the requirements of the NHQC and the New Homes Ombudsman Service.
Further commentary on issues relating to the impact of the New Homes Quality Code on the sales process will follow in further briefing notes.
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.