How can we help you?

Case studies

< Back

New Homes Quality Code Parts 1 and 2: Sales, Marketing and Reservation

Outcome: Upheld in part

Case date: 3rd November 2023

The Issues

The customer complained that the boiler had not been positioned correctly in the kitchen, and that they had been misled about how the mortgage incentive payment would be dealt with.   

The Circumstances

During the reservation process the customer was shown two drawings containing information about the kitchen.  One was provided by the kitchen company and showed the placement of the boiler. The other document showed general working drawings including items such as radiators and electric points.  It included an unlabelled item on a wall but did not specify that it was a boiler.

The customer had expected the boiler to be placed according to the kitchen company design and was disappointed to find it placed on the adjacent wall. The developer provided an additional wall cupboard to improve the look of the area and a further item requested by the customer.  The customer remained unhappy with the look of the kitchen and wished the boiler to be re-sited or boxed in to conceal its appearance.

The purchase terms included a financial incentive which was described in the reservation agreement as a contribution towards mortgage payments.  The developer provided examples of marketing material about similar financial incentives. The headline information suggested that payments were mortgage related and would be made monthly, although the detail clarified that the payment would be made as a lump sum. The customer understood that this would be a single payment but expected it to be made directly to them. In the event, the allowance was offset against the outstanding payment due from the customer on completion.

The Ombudsman’s Decision

The Ombudsman considered that the information provided to the customer at reservation had not been as clear as it should have been and upheld the complaint in part.  It was reasonable for the customer to have expected the boiler to be placed as shown on the kitchen design as that was the only information available which identified the boiler.  The developer had taken steps to address the customer’s concerns but confirmed that it would not be possible to box the unit fully on either wall.  The Ombudsman concluded that the look of the kitchen would not be improved by moving the boiler and full concealment was not possible. However, it would be appropriate for the developer to apologise to the customer for the lack of clarity over where the boiler would be placed.

As far as the financial incentives were concerned, although the headline marketing material indicated to customers that regular monthly payments would be made, the customer in this case understood that the incentive was a single payment.  The customer may have expected a direct payment, but they had not suffered any loss because the amount outstanding at completion would have been higher if the incentive had not been offset against it.  

The Ombudsman also recommended that the developer consider whether the way in which financial incentives of this sort were presented is sufficiently clear for customers to understand how they will apply in practice.

< Back To Case studies

Read Next