The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government made a new announcement on 1 October 2018.
On the face of it, it is brilliant news. The announcement addresses the need for planning reform to provide the homes the country so desperately needs, measures to improve the safety of high rise buildings following the Grenfell Disaster and a ‘New Homes Ombudsman’.
This new ombudsman is said to "champion the rights of homebuyers and help ensure that when they buy a new home they get the quality of build they rightly expect". The announcement continues that "the New Homes Ombudsman will protect the interests of homebuyers and hold developers to account when things go wrong."
This sounds like great news for homebuyers and could help boost the market if buyer concerns over 'dodgy developers' are reduced. However, developers would be right to be slightly more sceptical about the announcement. This is because the government has stated that they intend to introduce legislation requiring developers to belong to a new homes ombudsman - and frustratingly, that is all the information there is at present!
This leaves developers and home builders with the potentially onerous obligation of being required, by legislation, to belong to a watchdog but there is a complete lack of detail about that watchdog. There is no information as to how many watchdogs a developer will have to select from when they join, how the watchdogs will be made up or what powers they will have.
This seems to be a bit like the recent announcement on ground rents - where a grand statement has been made but those it affects will have to wait some time (and presumably until after Brexit is sorted) until housing is back on the agenda and some clarity is finally given.
The government has announced that there will be a New Homes Ombudsman - a watchdog that will champion homebuyers, protect their interests and hold developers to account. We intend to legislate to require all new developers to belong to a new homes ombudsman. House buyers should be confident that when they purchase a new home, they get the quality of build and finish they expected. We will work with consumers and industry to develop our proposals and publish more details in due course.