Recent updates to the housing consumer code
The housing consumer code is an important document composed in 2010, which ensures that all home buyers are treated fairly and not taken advantage of. Thanks to the code, buyers know what quality of service that they should expect and can obtain reliable information about their purchase.
The housing consumer code has now been split into two definitions. ‘The code’ refers specifically to the 19 requirements while ‘the code scheme’ includes both more explanation and a brief overview of the dispute service. Also, the definitions ‘home buyer’ and ‘customer’ have been clarified. The customer only becomes the home buyer when they enter into a formal reservation agreement.
The housing consumer code now states that evident needs of vulnerable customers should be considered at all times. For example, if an elderly customer has trouble with memory, and needs support from a young family member.
Home builders and agents sales offices now must display the logo of the housing consumer code, which will include the code’s web address. Home buyers must be given the code scheme documents on entering into the reservation agreement.
There is now a requirement in the housing consumer code that any event fees are stated at the reservation stage. Builders can also offer incentives to home buyers, but should allow them to have free choice of legal representatives.
The reservation agreement must now include the date until when the price remains valid, the nature of any event fees, and a receipt that the housing consumer code has been received by the home buyer. In regards to reservation fees, the builder is now required to state any range of monetary deduction in case of cancellation.
The home builder is now encouraged to explain to the home buyer that, at handover, there will be minor outstanding items with the home, and outline how these will be completed. The housing consumer code emphasises the importance of communications between the builder and the buyer.
There are new timescales for disputes. A home buyer cannot claim before 56 days have elapsed following their communication with the builder, or after 12 months have passed since the final response. Also, the award for inconvenience previously stood at £250 – this has been raised to £500. Home buyers making a claim must now specifically state the code requirement that the builder has broken.
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