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An introduction to the New Homes Ombudsman

The New Homes Ombudsman Service is here to provide a free and independent service to customers who have bought a new home and have concerns about the process of buying or snags or building defects arising within the first two years from reserving the property or completing the purchase. An additional aspect of the Ombudsman’s work is to help raise standards in the industry and improve complaint handling and customer service levels.

What does the Ombudsman need and how do they approach each case?

The New Homes Ombudsman Service is looking to establish whether the developer has met the requirements of the New Homes Quality Code, including whether they have appropriately responded to the customer complaint on building defects. New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS) follows an evidence-based process, meaning the Ombudsman relies on documentary evidence provided by the customer and the developer in understanding what has happened and whether the Code has been followed properly. There are no current plans to include site visits; they aren’t fundamental to the fair judgment of the case.

Sara Hesp, Lead Ombudsman had this to say:

“The New Homes Quality Code covers all aspects of the customer’s experience in buying a new home, and a site visit would not be relevant to many of these. Where the complaint is about a snagging issue or building defects, we need to understand how the problem has been dealt with by the developer and the aspects of their response which the customer remains dissatisfied with. This information can be provided easily in the form of reports, correspondence, photographs etc. A good evidence submission should tell the story without the need for site inspection.”

Providing a clear submission is vital – the Ombudsman needs to know which area of the Code the customer believes has been breached; the specifics of their complaint; and to have copies of evidence relevant to the complaint.

Once the customer submission has been made, a Caseworker will invite the developer to view and respond, and to provide a submission of their own.

The Ombudsman review of the building defects complaint

A key aspect of our service is to help the customer and developer reach an agreed solution without the need for a formal decision by the Ombudsman.  We will speak to you both in more detail and may also invite you to a mediation session.  An agreed solution keeps you both in control of the outcome and we will confirm any agreement you reach with you in writing.

If we can’t help you reach an agreed solution, a member of the Ombudsman team will review all of the evidence and make any further inquiries they consider appropriate before issuing their decision. Their report will set out the Ombudsman’s findings on the complaint and what remedy, if any, they propose.

These remedies could include:

  • An apology and explanation
  • Putting the matter right
  • Payment of compensation for loss up to £75,000
  • Taking any other action in the interests of the complainant as the Ombudsman may specify

Implementing the Ombudsman’s findings

The decision of the Ombudsman is binding on the Registered Developer but does not have to be accepted by the customer, who can reject the Decision and consider other action [such as a referral to Court]. If the customer rejects the Ombudsman’s decision, the Registered Developer does not need to implement the decision.


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