Secretary of State for Housing James Brokenshire has announced that a New Homes Ombudsman is to be appointed.
The role will specifically address problems of build quality in new homes.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Brokenshire also pledged that the Government’s domestic priority is building enough homes to satisfy the country’s needs.
He said “decades of under-investment and lack of political will” had created an environment in which home-ownership has become unattainable for many people.
Brokenshire said the New Homes Ombudsman would “champion” consumers – a statement that could raise eyebrows in wider ombudsman circles where fairness and impartiality are always emphasised.
Brokenshire told delegaates: “This new watchdog will champion home buyers, protect their interests and hold developers to account, and give confidence that when you get the keys to a new home you get the quality build you expect and the finish you pay for.”
The announcement lacked any further detail, but seems to signpost the Government’s direction of travel.
It had earlier proposed one single ombudsman for the entire housing sector, encompassing new-builds, social housing and both private sales and lettings.
It seems unlikely that a New Homes Ombudsman would be announced if the Government were still planning this.
An alternative proposal was that consumers would seek redress via a single portal which would direct them to the appropriate ombudsman. This now seems more likely, with the possibility that there would be only one ombudsman to cover each part of the housing market.
Yesterday evening Ombudsman Katrine Sporle of TPO – whose remit does not include the new homes sector or social housing but who has campaigned for a single ombudsman in each sector – said: “We welcome the news that the Government will launch a New Homes Ombudsman.
“We have always agreed that new homes should be covered by an Ombudsman, as consumers have no idea that when they buy a new home directly from a developer they will have no access to a redress scheme.
“This announcement will mean the housing market becomes a fairer place for all involved.”