The Dispute Service selected as New Homes Ombudsman

The Dispute Service has been selected as the New Homes Ombudsman after it won a competitive six-month tendering process.

The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) has announced that The Dispute Service will act as the independent ombudsman tasked with enforcing a new housebuilding industry code of practice “the New Homes Quality Code” (NHQC). The new code will place more responsibilities on builders and their services to customers, including complaints handling.

The new homes ombudsmen will provide unhappy buyers of new builds with a clear resolution procedure, whereby each case is independently reviewed against the NHQC to assess whether a breach has occurred. The code is expected to publish in December, following the results of a public consultation earlier in the year.

The Dispute Service has worked previously in the industry, most notably across the government-backed tenancy deposit protection scheme, as well as in dispute resolution services across the UK.

The ombudsman will be headed-up by experienced dispute resolution professional Alison MacDougall, group director of Resolution and former senior investigator at the Police Complaints Authority.

Natalie Elphicke OBE, chairman of the NHQB said:

“The ombudsman will be an independent customer guardian, making sure buyers get proper redress if they’ve been sold a shoddy home or suffer from poor customer service.

“A new home is the biggest purchase most of us will ever make and so it is right that we put the strongest protections in place to protect consumers buying a new home.

“The ombudsman and the powerful NHQC will drive up the quality of new homes and improve the service housebuilders provide to their customers.

“The Dispute Service proved that it had the necessary skills and experience to deliver an effective, efficient and robust New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS). They have a clear plan to create the powerful independent body that new home buyers deserve.”

Professor Martin Partington CBE, QC, chair of the Dispute Service, said:

“The Dispute Service is delighted to have been selected by NHQB. We are a not-for-profit company which has its roots in dealing with tenancy deposit disputes and in the last 14 years we have completed over 160,000 adjudications.

“In this time we have developed a range of digital solutions designed to make it easier for consumers to raise complaints and for their complaint and supporting evidence to be easily uploaded into our complaints platform, which is accessible to all parties to a dispute.

“We have also worked hard to increase the number of complaints we resolve through our mediation and conciliation work, leading to speedier outcomes for consumers.

“We know that there are issues in the new homes industry and we are excited by the opportunity to build a robust and independent redress service for consumers to address their legitimate complaints.”

Steve Harriott, chief executive of The Dispute Service said:

“We are already working hard to get the NHOS up and running. We are determined to work closely with both the NHQB and the housebuilding industry to make sure that they fully understand our role and that we can play a key part in helping to raise standards.”

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