The New Homes Quality Code (still in draft as of 22nd September 2021) will necessitate a review of housebuilder sales processes and systems, impose mandatory training for sales staff, and introduce a new Homes Ombudsman Scheme to deal with disputes.
There will be a transition window of 12 months between the phasing out of the existing Consumer Code and the introduction of the New Homes Quality Code and New Homes Ombudsman Scheme. The window will open in the Autumn of 2021 (specific date yet to be announced).
What is the Code meant to do?
The aim of the Code is to improve the quality of service and construction offered by housebuilders. The draft code proposes to introduce 10 mandatory fundamental principles on how the industry should deal with customers, but the overarching aim is to:
- ensure the industry delivers consistent quality with new homes in relation to both the information given and the service provided;
- strengthen the approach to complaints and fill the perceived gap in existing protection for customers;
- provide a route for redress where standards in finish or standards fall short; and finally
- introduce a new customer journey (complaints timetable).
What are the fundamental changes housebuilders can expect?
The Code’s aims are laudable as they intend to ensure that the quality of the final product is improved. There is no doubt however that there are a number of changes that housebuilders will need consider and ensure they have carefully implemented sooner rather than later.
- There will be a greater burden upon sales staff to ensure that extensive and comprehensive information is provided at the point of reservation.
- Training for sales staff is mandatory and essential.
- Spoken statements will have to be recorded and essentially more time will have to be built in between exchange and completion for pre-legal inspections to be conducted.
- The absence of any penalties for customers who pursue spurious claims could encourage more claims as could raising the cap on compensation levels to £50,000 from £15,500.
Our team of experts are monitoring the introduction carefully and can offer a brief overview of the Code as well as more extensive training specifically for sales staff.