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Ministers propose powerful new homes ombudsman

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Ministers have mooted the creation of a new single body with the power to award home-owners hefty payouts for shoddy building work

The government has opened a consultation on the possibility of a single housing ombudsman with significant abilities to address buyers’ concerns.

It follows a call from councils chief and peer Lord Best last month for an ombudsman with ‘sharp teeth’ to drive up the quality of new house building.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment last year warned of falling satisfaction levels among buyers of new-build homes.

The consultation, which will run for eight weeks, asks whether a single ombudsman should be created to deal with housing issues.

‘Primary legislation would ultimately be required to create an entirely new organisation to combine most of the existing housing redress functions, and potentially also new functions where there are currently gaps, into a single body,’ said the consultation document.

It also asks what powers any redress system should possess. One option is the right to award compensation payments ‘in excess of £25,000’.

Housing secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘For too long, tenants and home-owners have navigated multiple complaints procedures to resolve disputes about everyday household repairs and maintenance.

‘Fixing this housing crisis is about more than just building homes, it’s ensuring people have the answers available when something goes wrong.’

Lord Best today said there was a ‘crying need for a new homes ombudsman’.

But he warned that, with more than 2 million landlords in the UK, three-quarters of which have less than five properties, there could be ‘huge practical problems’ making the system work.

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