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Defective New Build Homes: Is the New Homes Ombudsman a solution?

View profile for Richard Kerry
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There has been many recent news articles regarding defects in new build homes. I personally have lost count of the number of calls from disgruntled purchasers:  “My new build home is falling apart and the developer isn’t doing anything about it. Can you help?” 

This isn’t an uncommon scenario. Where the developer has already sold the property, there remains little motivation for them to cooperate. Homeowners are often left out of pocket, and their dream home becomes a nightmare.  

Some new builds have the benefit of specialist insurance, from providers such as the NHBC. However, insurance companies prefer to limit the extent of pay outs, and often require you to first approach the developer in any event. They are far from independent. 

Enter the New Homes Ombudsman. 

In February 2020, the Ministry of Housing issued further proposals for the setting up of a New Homes Ombudsman. Under the proposals the Ombudsman will: 

• Establish a Code of Practice which developers must follow;

• Be free of charge for the purchaser;

• Will be available for purchasers to access within 2 years of purchasing a new build;

• Have the power to order developers to carry out specific remedial work, award compensation, and potentially ban developers from further projects; and

• Have the ability to award a maximum of £50,000 compensation. 

The proposals are a welcome development (pun intended), and will hopefully be a way for buyers to obtain a quick and free resolution to disputes arising from their purchase of a new build home. 

However, rogue developers are unlikely take the Ombudsman’s orders seriously, and those orders will be unenforceable without first obtaining a Court Order. 

Further, for higher value claims, or for rogue developers who conveniently enter liquidation after selling properties, the Courts are likely to remain the best option. That is where we come in. 

Bell Lax are able to enforce ombudsman’s orders via the appropriate court application, pursue claims against developers for defective work, and advise on insolvency issues. 

If you’ve experienced issues with your new build home, please contact me or on 0121 355 0011. I’d be happy to have an initial no obligation chat.