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Tougher regulation of house builders begins as new body begins work

Led by Tory MP Sophie Elphicke, the New Homes Quality Board is to introduce a code of practice and ombudsman later this year.

Nigel Lewis

natalie elphicke

A new body that will oversee improvements to the quality of new homes, better customer service and strengthened consumer redress has officially launched nine months after being announced.

Led by Sophie Elphicke MP, the New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) will include organisations representing consumer bodies, housebuilders, warranty providers and the finance sector.

She has enjoyed a colourful political career after succeeding her husband as MP for Dover in 2019 after he was accused of (and later convicted of ) sexual assault, but she has a solid background in housing including a career in property finance.

Many sales and letting agents will welcome the NHQB largely because, while agents have been regulated for years and faced redress when sales or lettings go wrong, new homes sales have been covered if they sell their homes via an estate agency.

Ombudsman

The NHQB is to launch a New Homes Ombudsman Service that will support buyers when there are disputes, although it work will not be retrospective.

This will be policed via a new code of practice which will require builders to join the scheme and then commit to much higher levels of service during the sales process, and also support buyers who have problems with their homes for up to two years after they complete.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation (HBF) said: “The industry is absolutely committed to putting measures in place to help deliver consistently high-quality new homes and effective redress for buyers.

“Recent years have seen significant improvements made in build quality and customer service and we are determined to go further.”

eddie holmes ministerHousing minister Eddie Hughes (pictured) says: “It’s crucial developers show more responsibility for the quality of their work while also acknowledging when things go wrong – this helps give vital confidence to buyers, especially at a time of general uncertainty.”

A consultation on the code is under way and the ombudsman scheme is set to be up and running later this year.

February 9, 2021

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