The government’s plans to improve the quality of new homes in the UK has gained pace with the creation of an interim board to oversee the appointment of a new homes ombudsman. The Chief Executive of the Housing & Finance Institute and now Conservative MP, Natalie Elphicke has been appointed as interim chair.
The government announced that it would establish a new homes ombudsman service in 2018 in response to complaints about the poor quality of new homes in the UK and the lack of redress for buyers. Following the government’s intervention, the quality of new homes has already started to improve, with the Home Builders Federation satisfaction surveys reporting improved results.
As well as appointing an Ombudsman, the board will be responsible for creating an industry code of practice against which housing developers will be judged.
Ms Elphicke, MP for Dover & Deal, was previously a lawyer specialising in housing and finance. She acted as New Homes Quality Champion and co-chaired the government’s Elphicke-House Report. She is currently a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.
The interim board will include experts from housebuilders, consumer bodies and lenders, including Taylor Wimpey’s group operations director, Jennie Daly, Story Homes’ managing director, Katy Jordan, Paul Smee of the Conveyancers Association and Douglas Cochrane, Lloyds Banking Group’s head of housing development.
Housing minister Christopher Pincher MP said: “Building the homes we need is central to the mission of this government, which is why we have safely reopened the housing market. As construction resumes, I am determined to see the building of high-quality homes at the heart of this process.”
James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professions, said that the creation of a code of practice and the appointment of a new homes ombudsman will make it easier for property professionals to work to a consistent set of standards. “We will soon have a set of guidelines which will drive up standards and reduce the number of complaints about new homes. It is important that construction professionals assimilate and employ the new standards quickly however. The courts look to the standards created by regulatory and professional bodies in determining what is meant by a professional’s duty of reasonable skill and care. As such, if a professional is not in step with the new code, they may find that they would not be considered to have employed the appropriate standard of care in their work.”
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