Before 2021 came to an end, the publication of the New Homes Quality Code was announced. That means, this year will see the introduction of the new arrangements across as much of the UK as possible. Also, it is expected that over the course of this year, all housing developers will register with the New Homes Quality Board (NHQB).
We find out more about the code of practice and what it means for new build home customers, and housing developers.
An overview of the New Homes Quality Code
To recap on previous articles we have shared, the new code of practice has been put into place to ensure new build homes are completed to the highest quality and standard. It is also in place to assist new home customers, to strengthen any protection for them should they require support, both during and after their property sale.
The New Homes Quality Code has been created by The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) with Natalie Elphicke as chair of the board. She confirms that the transition to the new arrangements will be done over the next few months and while they will be challenging to implement, the change will bring huge benefits for both new home customers and developers alike.
Alongside the new industry code of practice, there is an independent New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS) too, appointed by the NHQB. This gives those owning or buying a new home, extra support if they come into any disputes against builders.
What the New Homes Quality Code will do
Recognising a need in the industry to plug the gaps in the current processes and protections, and to cover every aspect of a new home purchase from the initial sales reservation right through until two years after purchase, the code will help to do as follows:
Protect vulnerable customers, prohibiting high pressure selling and requiring any deposits paid by customers to builders to be protected.
Require developers to provide all relevant information about the home during the sales process. This includes its tenure and any future management or service charges so that buyers can make an informed decision about their purchase.
Set requirements for a fair reservation agreement including a sales contract, as well as a cooling off period.
Allow customers to have a qualified professional carry out a pre-completion inspection of the home they are buying, on their behalf.
Ensure that homes must be complete, to prevent situations where customers are moving into incomplete new homes early.
Requires registered builders and developers to have an effective aftercare service in place to deal with any snagging issues customers may have. There must also be a robust, comprehensive complaints process in place so that customers’ concerns are responded to in a timely manner and to their satisfaction, while keeping them informed throughout. Should a customer not be satisfied with how any complaint is dealt with, they can refer their complaint to the New Homes Ombudsman Service.
What happens next?
Firstly, a new portal is in development to allow developers to start to register to the code from this month, January. Then, developers will receive support and training to enable them to make the transition to the new way of working. The training will involve making sure all staff who deal with customers, including sales and marketing teams, have a good understanding of the code requirements. There will be a period during this transition phase whereby developers will need to inform customers, depending on the date of any Reservation Agreements, if they are covered by the new code and the NHOS or if they would still be subject to the developer’s original terms.
Not until training has been followed and both parties are satisfied that they are ready, will developers or builders become ‘activated’. It will be from the point of agreed activation that new home customer reservations will have to meet the new code requirements and fall under the remit of the New Homes Ombudsman Service.
All new home builders and developers will be expected to register with the NHQB by the final registration date of 31 December 2022. With this in mind, we should see some big changes in the new home building industry this year, especially with regards quality and service delivery.
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