Government introduces Ombudsman for new homes
The Government remains keen to demonstrate that it is actively pursuing its housing reform agenda and has recently announced a number of new measures aimed at ‘supporting homebuyers and building more homes’, which includes the introduction of a New Homes Ombudsman.
The release is short on detail at this stage but indicates that:
- the watchdog will champion homebuyers, protect their interests and hold developers to account; and
- the Government will require all homebuilders to belong to the New Homes Ombudsman Scheme.
Traditional litigation is not seen as a practical solution for most consumer complaints. Disgruntled home buyers may currently have the option of pursuing a claim under the dispute resolution scheme, introduced by the Consumer Code for Homebuilders (an industry led initiative). However, whilst more accessible, the scheme has limits in both application and remedies. This announcement may therefore be a signal from the Government that it intends to get tough on homebuilders, to extend application of the Code principles and make compliance compulsory for all. It may also pave the way for a new and easier consumer complaints process with bigger teeth.