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Javid criticises builders on complaints and ugly properties

  • 29/11/2017
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Javid criticises builders on complaints and ugly properties
The government has issued proposals creating a new Housing Ombudsman to tackle and redress consumer complaints within the property sector.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) also chastised property developers for failing to take responsibility when faults arose and added that ugly homes should not get planning permission.

He urged developers to improve the standard of building design and engage more with local communities when proposing projects to ease planning permission problems.

Speaking at the National House Building Council, Javid said the current system of four ombudsmen and redress providers resulted in “all kinds of issues and inconsistencies”.

As a result, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will be consulting early in the New Year with a range of options to remedy the situation, including creating a new all-encompassing Housing Ombudsman.

This would be a “single, transparent and accountable body” with a remit covering the whole of the housing sector – including private and social landlords and the providers of new build homes.


Failure to admit fault

Taking aim at developers, Javid said: “What’s vital is that, when things do go wrong, those responsible admit there’s a problem and they get it fixed. Right now, that doesn’t always happen.

“Alongside the reports of faults with new build homes I see almost as many stories about the problems people face in getting them rectified.”

He added that it was clear the current redress system for buyers of new properties was not working properly, with “a confusing number of schemes in place and gaps in protection, particularly where the buyer has a problem with their home in the first two years”.

Javid continued: “I believe the time is right to go further, to look at what can be done to improve the means of securing redress right across the housing sector.

“Research in other sectors has shown that redress works more efficiently for consumers when there’s a single ombudsman in place.

“So, in the new year, we’re going to consult on this and see whether it’s right for the housing sector too.”


Ugly homes don’t deserve planning permission

The communities secretary also suggested builders should take greater care on property aesthetics, saying there was “room for improvement” in the standard of design.

He warned that failing to do so would mean continued opposition to housing developments, especially in rural areas.

“One of the single best ways to guarantee that a community will rise up against plans for any kind of development is to try and impose row upon row of identikit red-roofed boxes,” Javid said.

“To put it bluntly, ugly homes don’t get planning permission. And nor should they.”

He argued that building more homes quicker did not mean ignoring the attractiveness of developments.

“Quite the opposite, in fact. If you want people to quickly accept new homes in their area, they have to be homes that local people don’t mind looking at,” he continued.

“They have to be homes that people want to live in, and homes that people want to live next door to.

“All I’m saying is that engaging with the local community and giving them a greater influence over design will reap rewards for everyone, and it can work wonders in turning NIMBYs into YIMBYs,” he added.

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