The Dispute Service has been selected to provide the New Homes Ombudsman service and has named Alison MacDougall as the ombudsman designate.
MacDougall 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
The Dispute Service was appointed by the New Homes Quality Board – the organisation responsible for developing a new framework to oversee the build quality and the customer service provided by developers of new build homes – after a six-month competitive process.
The New Homes Ombudsman will be independent and provide redress for purchasers of new build homes that are not up to scratch. It forms a central plank of plans to deliver a step change in the quality of new build homes and the customer service provided by house builders.
The powerful new ombudsman will enforce a new housebuilding industry code of practice – the New Homes Quality Code. The code puts significantly more responsibilities on builders for the service they must provide – particularly after a customer moves into a new home. It also sets very high standards for the handling of complaints. It will be published next month, following a full public consultation carried out earlier in the year.
The New Homes Ombudsman Service will come on line in the New Year. Buyers of new build homes who are unhappy with their home, or frustrated with the performance of the developer in handling their complaint, will be able to ask the New Homes Ombudsman to review their case. The New Homes Ombudsman service will independently consider customers’ cases and rule whether there has been a breach of the New Homes Quality Code.
The Dispute Service is best known for its work on government authorised tenancy deposit protection and dispute resolution services across the UK. It clinched the role by impressing the assessment panel with its forward thinking and customer-focused approach, as well as an impressive track record of establishing new dispute resolution services across the UK in recent years.
MacDougall has 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. A law graduate, 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 appointment of the Ombudsman is a major milestone. The Dispute Service proved that it had the necessary skills and experience to deliver an effective, efficient and robust New Homes Ombudsman Service.”
Natalie Elphicke OBE MP and chairman of the NHQB said: “The appointment of the Ombudsman is a major milestone. The Dispute Service proved that it had the necessary skills and experience to deliver an effective, efficient and robust New Homes Ombudsman Service. 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 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.
“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.”