The New Homes Ombudsman Service
The NHOS will provide robust independent redress for new build buyers who have issues with their new home or developer. Customers buying a new home who are not happy with the quality of their new home or the service provided by their Registered Developer will be able to approach the NHOS if their complaint has not been dealt with to their satisfaction by their developer. The NHOS, whose decisions will be entirely independent of the NHQB and of industry, will consider the evidence provided by the customer and the developer to reach an adjudication.
Following a detailed tender and procurement process, The Dispute Service Ltd was selected by the NHQB as its preferred partner to create the NHOS. The NHQB is now working with The Dispute Service to develop the necessary processes such that a NHOS can be launched in the autumn of 2022. The NHQB and the Dispute Service is working with the Ombudsman Association to ensure all its processes are incorporated as the NHOS is developed.
The Ombudsman designate will be Alison MacDougall, who is currently Group Director of Resolution at The Dispute Service where she heads up the team of adjudicators and resolution executives dealing with disputes between landlords and tenants. A law graduate, she has had extensive experience in dispute resolution and ombudsman activities. She helped to establish the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education where she dealt with student complaints about higher education providers. She was also a senior investigator at the Police Complaints Authority dealing with serious complaints; including deaths in police custody, and has also worked at the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman.
“The Dispute Service is delighted to have been selected by NHQB to operate the new Homes Ombudsman Service. 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 innovative 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. Through this we have been able to improve the transparency of our adjudication work by ensuring that all parties to a complaint can see the evidence that has been presented to us. 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. We are also committed to working closely with the NHQB and the industry to roll out the New Homes Quality Code and to play a key part in helping to raise standards in the new build industry across the UK.”
"I am delighted to support this new body which will champion good quality homes and give much needed peace of mind for homebuyers with a strong regulator to help them if things go wrong."
Procurement of the NHOS
The Dispute Service was selected after a tender process run in line with the standards of a full public procurement process. The selection panel, made up of NHQB board members independent of the house building industry, undertook a detailed process lasting six months, to select The Dispute Service from an extremely high-quality field of interested parties.
The competitive process attracted some very experienced and professional tenderers which made the final selection very complex. All of the tenderers who reached the final stage demonstrated that they could perform the NHOS role.
The evaluation panel individually and carefully evaluated the method statements of each tenderer against a predefined scoring matrix and awarded a weighted score against a number of pre-set criteria before a weighting for the prices submitted by each tender were also fed into the overall evaluated scores. Each of the tenderers demonstrated strengths across a range of areas but ultimately The Dispute Service secured the highest score when each of the factors and each of the evaluation panels judgements were combined
The panel were particularly impressed by The Dispute Service’s forward thinking and track record of establishing dispute resolution services in different areas of operation and different parts of the country. It felt that The Dispute Service demonstrated that it had the capacity, requisite skills and technical ability to be able to work with the NHQB to develop an effective NHOS for consumers. In particular, the board welcomed their digital solutions proposals, that will be key to ensuring consumers can engage easily and effectively with the new service.