From 1 January 2022 housing developers are encouraged to register with the New Homes Quality Board and to adopt the New Homes Quality Code (the “Code”). The Code introduces a new industry code of practice with its main objectives being to ensure better quality new homes are built and to strengthen consumer redress if construction issues arise. All developers must register by no later than 31 December 2022 and adopt the Code.
The Code requires Developers to adhere to the following fundamental principles:
- Inclusivity - identifying vulnerable customers, providing them with support and ensuring that the Code is accessible to all.
- Fairness – treating customers fairly both during and after the sale process.
- Independence – allowing customers to appoint a professional to carry out a pre-completion property inspection and ensuring that they are made aware that they should appoint independent legal advisers to assist with their purchase.
- Security – ensuring financial arrangements are in place to allow a timely repayment of deposits when due.
- Service – implementing staff training to ensure that the Code is adhered to and to prevent high-pressure selling techniques being used.
- Transparency – providing customers with information about their new home such as the tenure, estate management charges and potential future costs allowing customers to make an informed decision about their purchase.
- Quality – ensuring good quality homes are built by carrying out works in accordance with building and other standards and to the required specification and only allowing legal completion to take place once the new home is complete.
- Safety – carrying out works and completing them in accordance with Building Regulations and Requirements as set out by the local authority or Building Safety Regulator.
- Responsiveness – responding to customer issues clearly and in a timely manner through the use of a robust after-sales service and implementing an effective complaints handling process.
- Compliance – complying with the requirements of the New Homes Quality Board and New Homes Ombudsman which shall deal with customer issues and complaints where the developer has been unable to resolve them.
One of the key changes outlined in the Code is the creation of the New Homes Ombudsman which once implemented is likely to provide customers with greater protections and aid the resolution of issues.
When to register
The year 2022 provides a transitional period during which developers can register and begin implementing the Code.
The Code is likely to have a significant impact on day to day operations for developers from the need to implement employee training, the introduction of complaints procedures and the adoption of standard documents to be used across the industry. We recommend that you consider how the Code will impact your business and the changes you will need to implement to become Code compliant. This will allow you to determine when your business will be best placed to register and ensure that you are ready to implement the Code once the registration process is complete.
We will be publishing detailed guidance on the Code and the likely impacts for developers for you to consider and we recommend that you consider this guidance before registering. In the meantime, we will be pleased to assist you with any queries you may have and a full copy of the Code and developer guidance can be found at https://www.nhqb.org.uk/developers/.
The New Homes Quality Board will also be there to assist you in the transition and provide you with support. They can be contacted initially by email firstname.lastname@example.org.