Redress for Purchasers of New Build Homes and the New Homes Ombudsman
Objectives of the consultation
This consultation sought views on a New Homes Ombudsman and the detail of proposed legislation to provide better redress for purchasers of new build homes. It covered the following areas:
- The role of a New Homes Ombudsman;
- The requirement of developers of new homes to belong to a New Homes Ombudsman;
- The number of Ombudsmen;
- Access to a New Homes Ombudsman;
- Standards of a New Homes Ombudsman;
- Scheme Provider and Approvals Process;
- Funding a New Homes Ombudsman;
- Powers of a New Homes Ombudsman;
- Geographical Scope;
- A Code of Practice for developers of new build homes; and
This consultation closed on 22 August 2019.
To download the consultation document, please follow the link below.
CIBSE has in the past expressed concerns about the performance of homes and the very low levels of consumer protection in this area, and broadly welcomed the intent of the proposals in this consultation. CIBSE has responded in detail to the questions of direct relevance to CIBSE and its members, and highlighted two main points of concern:
- The operational performance of homes should be very firmly within the scope of the Ombudsman and Code of Practice. This must not relate to the theoretical asset rating (e.g. Energy Performance Certificate- EPC), which often bears little relation to actual performance. This is a significant area where consumer protection is needed, both because energy bills can be a significant expense to home occupiers, and because the current information available to consumers, such as EPCs, is confusing and is often misunderstood as a reliable predictor of actual performance. In addition, the scope of the Ombudsman must include other performance issues that affect the health and comfort of home owners, in particular overheating and air quality (both also related to energy performance). This would not only provide a significant enhancement of current consumer protection, but would also contribute to the UK’s climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, as well as providing better consumer protection.
- The scope of the Ombudsman and Code of Practice should not only include new build homes, but also newly converted homes i.e. those created by change of use. This is particularly the case given the extensions to Permitted Development Rights in recent years, which have considerably reduced the oversight by local authorities on the creation of such newly converted homes. There is growing concern and evidence that this can lead to the creation of homes of very low standards.
CIBSE would be happy to support the development of the Code of Practice.
To read the full CIBSE response, please follow the link below.